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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Saddam 'alive and in Iraq'
A picture of Saddam Hussein in the mess left behind in a looted Iraqi school
Saddam Hussein - still noticeable by his absence
Saddam Hussein and at least one of his sons are being tracked as they move around Iraq, an opposition leader has told the BBC.

Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress says his supporters have not yet caught up with the ousted dictator but reports of his movements arrive within "12 to 24 hours".

Mr Chalabi once tried to initiate an uprising against Saddam Hussein but repeated that he did not seek a high political post in the new Iraq.

He added that he doubted that Iraqis would welcome a significant role for the United Nations, saying the body was viewed as a "de facto ally" of the old regime.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Chalabi said his intelligence suggested Saddam Hussein was still in Iraq, and was on the move.

While supporters had not yet managed to catch up with the wanted former leader, Mr Chalabi said: "We are aware of his movements between 12 and 24 hours after he has been there."

"We received intelligence about his son Qusay yesterday," he said.

"The night before he was seen in Aadhamiya."

'Finally home'

Mr Chalabi, 58, repeated his denials that he wanted a high-profile political role in the country he fled as a boy in 1956.

He was flown into Iraq by US forces a few days before the fall of Baghdad and has the support of Vice-President Dick Cheney and a number of other leaders in the Bush administration.

Ahmed Chalabi meets with Iraqi tribal leaders in Baghdad on Friday
[Iraqi] people are fed up with totalitarianism and repression... they feel that they are the allies of the foreign army
Ahmed Chalabi
INC leader
But he told James Naughtie that he preferred to less of a prominent role than in the mid-1990s when he tried to organise an uprising against Saddam Hussein in northern Iraq.

"I have waited all my life to come home," he said.

"I want to work on building civil society as a basis for democracy."

He said he was confident a liberal democracy would work in Iraq, though he has had to travel encircled by private armed guards since returning.

"People are fed up with totalitarianism and repression... They think they have won against Saddam," he said.

"[They] feel victorious... which is ironic because there is a foreign army here. But they feel that they are the allies of the foreign army."

Mr Chalabi said the apparent rise of Shia clerics as local leaders and political organisers was a "distorted view".

"No-one has control over towns... over streets. It is a euphoria of expression [where] piety becomes a political act because [the people] have been denied that."

It was a transitory movement with "no momentum", he said.

'Smoking a cigar with Saddam'

Any UN ambition to take a role in rebuilding Iraq would not be popular, Mr Chalabi said.

"The Iraqi people view the UN as a de facto ally of Saddam" because they had seen UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "smoking a cigar with Saddam", he said.

"The reality of the situation will imply that the UN cannot have a role."

Mr Chalabi has been dogged by a past conviction in Jordan for embezzlement and false accounting that led to the collapse of his Petra Bank.

But he said: "Everybody knows [the conviction] was a naked act of aggression, of the Jordan Government acting on behalf of Saddam."

He pledged to soon provide evidence that the conviction was unsound.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Dr Ahmed Chalabi
"I am not the candidate"



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