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Iraqi PM Refuses to Quit, Despite Pressure from VP and West

Iraq's embattled prime minister is refusing to give up his candidacy to lead the country's next government, despite strong appeals from within the Shi'ite alliance and the West.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari told Britain's Guardian newspaper that his nomination by majority Shi'ite legislators was a "democratic process" that must be followed.

In a media interview Tuesday, Iraq's vice president said Jaafari should step down because he does not have the support of political groups to form a unity government.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi's comments on British radio add to calls from the United States and Britain for the prime minister to give up his post.

Jaafari's candidacy is one of the main sticking points blocking efforts to form a national unit government in Iraq.

The nation's parliamentary elections were held nearly four months ago.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visited Baghdad to press for the formation of a government as soon as possible.

President Bush Tuesday urged Iraqi politicians to form a government without further delay. He said every day of delay is another day of violence in the war-torn country.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.