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Thousands Of Candidates To Run In Iraqi Local Elections

Iraqi men put up election posters on a wall on a street in Al-Najaf.
BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Election Commission has said that some 14,300 candidates will compete for 441 seats on local government councils in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces in the January 31 elections.

Chief electoral officer Qassim al-Abbudi told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq that tens of thousands of election observers have been accredited to monitor the poll. He said observers will include representatives of political "entities" and civil organizations.

The United Nations Assistance Mission-Iraq says that the International Reconstruction Fund has funded NGOs to train up to 60,000 domestic observers.

Some 15 million people have registered to vote in the elections.

Polls in the three provinces forming the Kurdish autonomous region and the oil-rich, multiethnic Kirkuk will be held at a later date.

This month's elections will be Iraq's third set of elections in about six years.