BAGHDAD ø The Iraqi Governing Council has clashed with the United
Nations over the appointment of an interim prime minister.
The IGC has proposed its defense minister as the next interim prime minister.
UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has refused to endorse the proposal.
The IGC has nominated Defense Minister Ali Alawi to become prime minister of
a new government scheduled to be introduced on June 30. The interim
government was meant to lead Iraq to national elections by January 2005, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said Alawi, a Shi'ite with longtime links to both the former
ruling Baath Party and the U.S. intelligence community, won unanimous
endorsement from the council. But the United States stressed that Brahimi
will have the final word on Iraq's new interim leadership.
"We are working with ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, the secretary general's
representative, and he is the one we are waiting to hear from, not only with
respect to the prime minister, but the president, the two vice presidents,
as well as all
of the Cabinet ministers," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on May
28. "And so we have no position on any candidate at this moment because we
are waiting to hear from ambassador Brahimi and he needs time to complete
Hours later, the White House welcomed the IGC's choice of Alawi. "He is
certainly a fine and capable leader who appears to have broad support among
the Iraqi people," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
During the Saddam Hussein regime, Alawi served as secretary-general of
the Iraqi National Accord. The opposition group has been comprised of former
Brahimi did not directly respond to the IGC nomination. Instead, the UN
envoy said in a statement that the interim government ø including its
president, vice president, a preparatory committee for Iraq's electoral
commission ø remains to be formed. He would not elaborate.
Later, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the IGC nomination was unexpected
and that Brahimi did not attend the announcement. Eckhard said Brahimi would
announce the full government once all of the positions were filled.