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UN Criticizes Electoral Rule Changes in Iraq


The United Nations has expressed concern over changes to Iraq's election rules which will make it harder for a constitutional referendum to fail later this month.

A U.N. spokesman, Stephane Dujarric said officials have told Iraq's government that they believe the changes do not meet international standards.

Iraq's Shi'ite and Kurdish lawmakers agreed to the change Sunday. Under the new rules, the draft can fail only if two-thirds of registered voters in at least three provinces reject it -- rather than two-thirds of actual voters.

In Washington today, a U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack urged Iraqi officials to respect earlier decisions on the referendum.

Members of Iraq's minority Sunni Arab community have condemned the changes and threatened to boycott the October 15th vote.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a new operation against insurgents in western Iraq.

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