"Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shia leader, have said they will boycott provincial elections due in October.
The announcement by Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the city of Najaf, is the latest blow to the embattled Iraqi political process.
"The Sadr group will not take part in the [provincial] elections as we did in the parliamentary election," al-Obeidi said.
"This is the decision as of now by Muqtada and the Sadrists. We want to avoid making the same mistakes of being part of the sectarian divisions."
Iraq is due to hold elections in its 18 provinces on October 1, a move intended to give more power to local provincial councils.
The provincial elections law was passed in February, amid criticism that some aspects of it were in contradiction with the Iraqi constitution.
The elections are a benchmark set by Washington......"