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The Journal Gazette

  • Umm Jassim stands with her grandsons in the wreckage of their home, destroyed after heavy rain, at a compound for displaced people in Baghdad's southeastern Zaafaraniyah district, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. An estimated 1.55 million people are currently displaced inside Iraq due to sectarian violence that threatened their lives. (AP Photo/ Hadi Mizban)

Thursday, February 07, 2013 4:20 am

Iraq official reports threats ahead of April vote

The Associated Press

An Iraqi official says militants have issued death threats against employees of the country's election commission, raising concerns about security ahead of the upcoming provincial balloting.

The April 20 vote is the first nationwide ballot since 2010 and an important test for embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Muqdad al-Shuraifi, a member of the election commission, said on Thursday that commission employees in the predominantly Sunni provinces of Salahuddin and Ninevah have received death threats from militants. He would not elaborate.

He says the weekly anti-government demonstrations by the Sunni minority could make it more difficult to ensure security and a "fair election" in western and northern Iraq.'

He says 131 of 8,224 candidates for 18 provincial councils have been disqualified for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein now-disbanded Baath party.