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British Minister Quits in Dispute with Blair over Iraq - 2003-05-12

One of Britain's senior cabinet ministers has resigned, saying Prime Minister Tony Blair has failed to keep promises he made to her about post-Saddam administration of Iraq.

Overseas Development Secretary Clare Short said she is leaving because she disagreed with Prime Minister Blair over how to rebuild Iraq. In comments Monday, Ms. Short said Mr. Blair had promised her the United Nations would have a central role in the country.

But she said that when Britain recently supported a draft Security Council resolution giving the United Nations only a limited role in Iraq she felt she had to leave the government. "Instead of giving the U.N. the role of bringing into being a new Iraqi government, first interim and then a constitution and then elections as we have done in Afghanistan, they have tried to say the U.N. can play a role in a lead taken by the occupying powers. And I do not think that will work well and it is not right. And it continues to divide the international community and marginalize the U.N. and I just cannot support it," Ms. Short said.

Many British observers are surprised Ms. Short lasted in her position as long as she did. Before the Iraq war began, she gave a speech criticizing Mr. Blair's handling of the Iraq crisis as "deeply reckless."

She will be replaced in the cabinet by Valerie Ann Amos, who now serves as minister for Africa.