There was no let up in violence in Iraq as campaigning for the country’s first multi-party elections in half a century got underway. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has announced he will stand, backed by a 240-member list of candidates from his Iraqi National Accord Party. Electoral authorities say about 80 political blocs have registered to take part in the poll, including Sunni Muslim alliances.
But with the bloodshed continuing – particularly in Sunni areas – analysts say it is hard to overstate the scale of the challenge that lies ahead for the country. Authorities must set up voting booths and so on across the country, including in places where insurgents are still extremely active. More than 230 parties and groups have less than seven weeks to sell their messages amid the violence and chaos.