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Campaigning Begins In Iraq For Parliamentary Elections

A campaign billboard in Baghdad
BAGHDAD -- The campaign for Iraq's parliamentary elections officially started today amid a continuing controversy over a ban on scores of candidates.

Many of those on the blacklist were banned for links to the Ba'ath party of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The ban raised tensions between Sunni Muslims and Shi'ites, with many Sunni Muslims -- who were dominant under Hussein -- complaining they were being discriminated against by the Shi'ite-led government.

Electoral authorities initially banned some 500 candidates, but the list was later cut down to about 170.

The start of election campaigning had been postponed by more than a week to allow more time for appeals.

Nearly 6,200 candidates are competing for the 325 seats in parliament in the March 7 election.

compiled from agency reports