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The first post-Saddam Hussein elections in Iraq will take place on January 30
The first post-Saddam Hussein elections in Iraq will take place on January 30 despite boycott calls from Sunni Muslims, violence and disaster over the country, announced Iraq on Sunday. The electoral commission has unanimously decided to consider January 30 as the date for the elections, commission chairman Abdel Hussein al-Hindawi told reporters in Baghdad. US and Iraqi troops were still hunting down insurgents in the capital and other parts of the country following a massive operation on the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah where 1,450 suspects have been rounded up, reports Khaleej Times. According to the Channel News Asia, several areas of Iraq had become no-go zones in recent months and cast doubt on the feasibility of elections in January, but Iraq's electoral commission spokesman Farid Ayar said the vote would go ahead as planned. "The general elections will take place on January 30, 2005," Ayar told AFP in Beirut. Despite growing scepticism that the elections could be held on time and boycott calls from radical Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had always remained adamant there would be no delay. With the US military more stretched than ever by its nationwide push to reclaim rebel hotspots, top US brass hinted tours of duty could be extended and reinforcements sent to Iraq for the elections. Efforts to foster prosperity in a oil-rich country left in poverty by years of wars and U.N. sanctions took a step forward at the weekend when creditor nations, including Russia, agreed in the Paris Club to forgive up to 80 percent of Iraq's debts. Foreign ministers from countries which opposed last year's U.S. invasion, including France, Iran and Syria, will meet U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and others at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday to discuss Iraq's future. Diplomats expect the two-day meeting of 20 ministers to endorse Baghdad's election plans but expect little new agreement on how to help Iraq return to stability and independence, informs Reuters
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