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Report: Most Iraqi Governing Council Members No Longer Support US Plan - 2004-02-17


The Washington Post is reporting that most members of Iraq's Governing Council no longer support a U.S. backed plan to choose an interim government through regional caucuses (meetings).

The newspaper cites several members as saying a majority of the U.S.-approved body now wants the Council itself to assume sovereignty until elections can be held.

Last year the Governing Council endorsed the U.S. plan, which calls for Iraqis to hold local meetings and choose a transitional government to take power by June 30th and organize general elections by the end of 2005.

But the Washington Post report says most members have quietly withdrawn their support since a UN team recently discussed the elections issue with Iraqi leaders.

Among those leaders was the top Shi'te cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been demanding an early vote to choose a government.

The head of the UN team, Lakhdar Bhrahimi, has indicated he believes nationwide elections could be arranged by the end of this year or early next year.

The diplomat is to due to report next week to the UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, who then is expected to issue recommendations about how to proceed in Iraq.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has said the United States is awaiting UN recommendations and is ready to consider alternatives to its plan for transferring Iraqi sovereignty. But he said Washington remains committed to a June 30th deadline for the turnover of power.

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