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Iraqi Sunni Leaders Urge Election Participation

14 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Some 300 leaders of Iraq's Sunni Arabs have issued a call for Sunnis to participate in new elections set for December.

Sunnis largely stayed away from last January's voting, leaving their community virtually unrepresented in parliament.

The call was issued by Adnan Al-Dulaimi, a spokesman for the General Conference of Sunnis.

Sheikh Ibrahim al-Nima, a leading Sunni cleric from the main northern city of Mosul, said that sitting out the last elections was -- as he put it -- "a big mistake."

Sunni Arabs comprise around one-fifth of Iraq's 27 million people. They dominated during Saddam Hussein's regime.

New polls are scheduled for December after a new constitution has been drafted and put to a referendum. Voting could be delayed if agreement is slow on the new charter.