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[casi] BBC: INC's Zubaidi claims election as 'president of Baghdad's executive committee'

Confusion over Baghdad 'vote'
BBC Online, 18th April 2003

A US marine spokesman in Baghdad has downplayed reports that an Iraqi has
been elected to govern the city.
The officer was responding to news that Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi had
announced his "election" by local people and was liaising with the US

"Anyone can call themselves anything they want to, but future appointments
like this will be handled through USAid," Captain Joe Plenzler told AFP news

Political manoeuvring is intensifying across Iraq as exiled opposition
leaders return to the country and try to stake their claims for roles in the
future government.

Mr Zubaidi, who says he is a member of the US-backed Iraqi National Congress
(INC), told reporters he had been elected by religious and community leaders
as "president of Baghdad's executive committee" but he gave few details.

Reuters news agency reports that most Iraqis it interviewed after Mr
Zubaidi's "election" said they knew nothing about polling.

Mr Zubaidi said executive committees were being set up to restore health
care and other essential services to the capital which has been without
electricity for about two weeks.

Looting continues in the capital, but US forces say that with 300 volunteer
police on the streets, lawlessness is less widespread than before.

BBC regional analyst Pam O'Toole says that installing people as governors or
leaders at this stage would go against everything Washington has been saying
about a democratic political process.

At the same time, our correspondent notes, the Americans clearly need help
restoring order and public services.

Candidates for power

At US Central Command in Qatar, the main US military spokesman did not
comment directly on reports of Mr Zubaidi's appointment along with that of
an interim mayor, Jaudat Obeidi.

"There are a number of emerging leaders throughout Iraq and the coalition
works with a number of them on a variety of levels," Brigadier General
Vincent Brooks told reporters on Thursday.

The men jockeying for position in Iraq now range from members of the Shia
Muslim community to people who left Iraq more than a decade ago, to former
members of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Some have joined a process started by the United States to identify an
interim administration for post-war Iraq while others are boycotting.

Others have declared themselves leaders of cities but analysts say such
claims are near-worthless without the approval or backing of the coalition
forces controlling Iraq.

Those competing for leading post-war roles include:

Ahmed Chalabi of the London-based INC who appears to be trying to force the
pace by moving from his initial base in southern Iraq to the capital,

Ayad Alawi, who leads a party which includes many military defectors from
the old regime, is said to be in Baghdad seeking to garner support from
so-called "clean" Baath party members

Mashaan al-Juburi who defected from the regime in the 1990s and is now
working with the Kurds and Americans in northern Iraq; he describes himself
as acting governor of Mosul

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2003/04/17 16:50:06


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