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(AFP) 28 October 2005 -- Election officials in Iraq say they received a number of applications for upcoming nationwide elections as the deadline to register for the parliamentary polls passed.

Election Commission chief Hussein Hendawi said there was a "rush" on the last day to register, but added that it is too early to give details about applications.

The ruling Shi'ite Islamist parties -- the United Iraqi Alliance -- have agreed to register as a united bloc for the 15 December elections.

The alliance is expected to face a new coalition of three leading Sunni Arab parties.

The two main Kurdish movements -- which joined the Shi'ite alliance in the interim government -- have also agreed to run on a joint ticket again.

Three Sunni-Arab parties -- the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraqi National Dialogue Council, and the Iraqi Peoples Conference -- announced on 26 October that they will participate as a coalition list named the Iraqi Accordance Front.

(RFE/RL/Reuters/AFP/AP)
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