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Iraqi Governing Council Nominates Shi'ite as PM - 2004-05-28


The Iraqi Governing Council has nominated one of its own members, Shi'ite Muslim Iyad Allawi, as its candidate for prime minister of the caretaker government that will take power in Iraq on June 30. The nomination is just one of hundreds put forth by various Iraqi groups to the U.N. special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is charged with forming the next interim government.

Governing Council members say Iyad Allawi was unanimously chosen by his peers to be the Council's candidate for prime minister of Iraq's next interim government during a special council meeting Friday afternoon.

The 25-member body declined to comment further. The council is still in the process of endorsing candidates for the ceremonial positions of president and two vice presidents.

Mr. Allawi's nomination has been forwarded to Lakhdar Brahimi for consideration. The U.N. special envoy, in close consultation with the United States, is in the process of selecting leaders for 30 government posts. The role of the caretaker government will largely be to pave the way for national elections early next year.

At the daily coalition briefing, spokesman Dan Senor downplayed Mr. Allawi's nomination, saying that Mr. Brahimi is the one who will ultimately make the final decision on who will lead Iraq after the coalition occupation ends on June 30.

"As we have been saying, Mr. Brahimi, the U.N. Secretary-General representative here, has been engaging in consultations throughout the country, as he works to advise on the formation of an interim government," said the spokesman. [The Governing Council] expressed their view on who they would like to see as prime minister, and a formal announcement will come from Mr. Brahimi."

A physician by profession, Mr. Allawi began his political career in the 1970s as a vocal opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime.

He later fled to Western Europe, where he spent decades in exile as the leader of Iraqi National Accord, an opposition group made up in part of military officers who had defected from Saddam's army. After the fall of Saddam's regime in April 2003, Mr. Allawi returned to Iraq, and was appointed governing council member by the U.S.-led coalition administration.

Earlier this week, a Shi'ite nuclear scientist, Hussain Shahristani, had emerged as Mr. Brahimi's choice for prime minister. But the scientist, who spent years at the Abu Ghraib prison for defying Saddam, turned down the offer, saying he wanted to serve Iraq in other ways.

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