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Iraqi Official Warns Of Fallout From Sunni Boycott

18 January 2005 -- Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said today that the country could be thrown into civil war if its Sunni Arab minority boycotts the planned 30 January national and provincial elections.

Al-Naqib said that if Iraq's parliament does not represent all Iraqis, the country could desccend into civil war.

A number of Sunni clerics and politicians have told their followers to boycott the vote, which many say will give political dominance to Iraq's majority Shi'ites. Some Sunni leaders have also said the security situation will keep many Sunnis away from the polls.

In other developments in Iraq, insurgents released a video of eight Chinese hostages and threatened to kill them unless Beijing clarifies its role in Iraq.

Earlier today, a suicide car bomber attacked the Baghdad offices of the leading Shi'ite political party in Iraq, killing two people and the attacker.


[For news, background, and analysis on Iraq's 30 January provincial and national elections, see RFE/RL's dedicated Iraq Votes 2005 website.]

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