BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has asked the electoral commission to push ahead with planning for provincial elections in April, his media advisor said on Friday, despite legal challenges that could end in the dissolution of the commission.

The provincial elections will serve as an indicator of the strength of Iraq's political groupings ahead of a parliamentary vote due in 2014.

"The prime minister received the members of the Independent Electoral Commission (IHEC) in his office on Thursday and called on them to hold the provincial council elections on schedule, without any delay," Ali al-Moussawi said.

Moussawi gave no specific date for the vote, but said it would probably be held in April, in line with a decision by the previous electoral commission.

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