Sunni Parties Form Coalition

Three mostly Sunni Arab political parties announced on Wednesday that they have formed a coalition to run in Iraq's (search) parliamentary election in December.

The three — the General Conference for the People of Iraq (search), the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Iraqi National Dialogue — have been urging Sunnis to take part in the Dec. 15 election.

They named their coalition the Iraqi Accord (search), said Ayad al-Samarrie, a senior official in the Iraqi Islamic Party.

Sunni Arabs, once dominant under Saddam Hussein, largely boycotted the Jan. 30 election that produced a mostly Shiite and Kurdish government. But many Sunnis ignored calls by the country's Sunni-led insurgents for a boycott of Iraq's Oct. 15 constitutional referendum, with many of them going to the polls to vote "no."

After a 10-day audit of that vote, Iraq's election commission announced on Tuesday that the referendum had passed with a nearly 79 percent "yes" vote, thanks to big support by majority Shiites and Kurds.

The approval of the referendum, another step forward in Iraq's democratic reforms, cleared the way for the Dec. 15 election to choose a new Iraqi parliament.

Most Sunnis voted against the constitution, fearing that it would break Iraq into three semi-autonomous sectors: two oil-rich ones — a Kurdish one in the north and a Shiite one in the south — and leave most Sunnis in a weak one in central and western Iraq.