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Iraq Voters Protest Poll Lockout

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Hundreds of Iraqis shouted slogans and waved flags Sunday outside Baghdad's Green Zone to protest alleged irregularities they say prevented tens of thousands in Mosul from voting.

The demonstrators were mainly Iraqi Christians, Turkomen and Yazidis -- members of a small religion in the north -- who say polling centers never opened in their neighborhoods in the turbulent northern city and surrounding Nineveh province.

Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have acknowledged that many polling sites never opened Jan. 30 or opened late because of what they said were security concerns. Some sites that opened could not be supplied with ballots and other election materials, officials have said.

A team of independent lawyers is investigating those and other complaints in Mosul and will report back to the electoral commission.

"We are protesting because we have been deprived of our right to participate in the elections," said Shameil Benjamin, a member of a Christian party called the Democratic Assyrian Movement.

"There were irregularities, and we felt that the injustice was inflicted on us."


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