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Iraqi leader promises elections

BAGHDAD – Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday that provincial elections will be held before the end of the year – a key demand from the United States, which hopes to give Sunnis another chance to take part.

The last provincial elections were held on Jan. 30, 2005, and were largely boycotted by the Sunni minority, resulting in a Shiite sweep even in areas of the country with substantial Sunni populations.

“We are determined to hold provincial elections this year, and we should not surrender to challenges, and it is not important for us who wins because the winner are Iraqis,” al-Maliki said in a statement.

In a speech in January, President Bush listed several goals for the Iraqis, including legislation to share oil revenue among all Iraqis, holding provincial elections and overhauling so-called de-Baathification laws which removed thousands of Saddam Hussein supporters from government jobs.


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U.S. Gulf Coast prepares as Alberto brings wind, rain north

UPDATED: 9:03 p.m.

Florida and Mississippi launched emergency preparations Saturday ahead of the arrival of Subtropical Storm Alberto, a slow-moving system expected to cause wet misery across the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast over the holiday weekend.