Sunni candidate in Iraq gunned down on eve of elections

More than 1,000 Sunni clerics issue religious edict urging Sunni Arabs to vote in Thursday's balloting.

iraq violence 88 (photo credit: )
iraq violence 88
(photo credit: )
Gunmen killed a Sunni Arab candidate for parliament and militants tried to blow up a leading Shi'ite politician in separate attacks Tuesday, the last day of campaigning for Iraq's election. More than 1,000 Sunni clerics, meanwhile, issued a religious edict, or a fatwa, urging Sunni Arabs to vote in Thursday's balloting offering a seal of approval as members of the disaffected minority are expected to turn out in large numbers after mostly boycotting the landmark Jan. 30 polls. Ali al-Lami, executive director of the Iraqi Electoral Commission, appealed for peace when about 15 million people will be called on to vote in more than 6,200 polling stations. Insurgent groups also have in recent days backed way from the threats they used to keep Sunni Arabs away from previous elections. The militant Islamic Army in Iraq told its fighters not to attack polling stations during the elections to avoid killing civilians, according to a statement published Tuesday in the group's name on the Internet. Early voting proceeded without problems Monday for Iraqi security forces, hospital patients and prisoners, al-Lami said. Balloting for Iraqis who live abroad opened Tuesday, and began in Australia, where up to 20,000 registered Iraqi voters live. They are part of a group of 1.5 million voters living outside Iraq who will cast ballots at polling centers in 15 countries, including the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. Gunmen in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killed Sunni Arab candidate Mezher al-Dulaimi while he was filling up his car at a gas station. A roadside bomb targeted the convoy of Sheik Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, a Shiite member of the National Assembly who was elected with the governing United Iraqi Alliance. The Iraqi army said the explosion in Latifiyah, about 20 miles south of Baghdad, damaged one of the vehicles. Police said a roadside bomb intended for one of their patrols in the central city of Samarra missed, instead killing a child and seriously injuring his father.