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Iraq Power Transfer Plan May be Amended - 2003-11-28


The head of the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council has agreed with the country's top Shi'ite Muslim cleric that a plan for returning sovereignty to Iraqis should be amended.

Council Chairman Jalal Talabani met in Najaf today (Thursday) with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose support for a transfer of power is considered crucial.

After the meeting, Mr. Talabani said the roadmap for transferring power remains in place, but will likely be modified to reflect the cleric's objections.

He said the Ayatollah wants direct municipal and legislative council elections to be run by Iraqis, not Americans.

The Ayatollah was quoted Wednesday as saying the current plan lacks a role for the Iraqi people in the transition and does not recognize the Islamic identity of Iraq.

The head of a major Shi'ite political party, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who is a member of Iraq's U.S.-appointed governing council, also criticized the plan for delaying full elections until 2005.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Colin Powell said today (Thursday) the United States would not immediately seek a new U.N. resolution on Iraq.

Mr. Powell told an interviewer (on National Public Radio) that calling on the United Nations for a new resolution on the planned transfer of power would be "premature." He said the current U.N. resolution gives the United States sufficient authority in Iraq.

Information for this report is provided by AP.

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