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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Iraqi leaders expected mid-May

The United States administrator in Iraq, Jay Garner, has said the core of an interim Iraqi government should be in place by mid-May.

General Jay Garner
Garner says he does not want to do all the work

"By the middle of the month, you'll really see a beginning of a nucleus of an Iraqi government with an Iraqi face on it that is dealing with the coalition," the retired general said.

He said he expected up to nine Iraqis to form an interim leadership group that would be a point of contact for the Americans.

Mr Garner also said that the self-proclaimed mayor of Baghdad, Mohammed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, who was arrested by US forces, had been released after two days.

He was accused of trying to sabotage coalition efforts to restore basic services to the war-torn capital.

The condition for his release was that he must not resume his activity of establishing authority in Baghdad.

Up to nine in core leadership
Sunni, Shia, Christians and Kurds to be represented
Local and exiled leaders to take part
US diplomat Paul Bremer to oversee political process

"If he steps out of line again, he'll be detained for a lot longer," Mr Garner said.

Mr Garner accused Mr Zubaidi of stealing cars and confiscating property while he exercised power in Baghdad.

The Iraqi capital has been plagued by violence and looting since US forces entered on 9 April, prompting criticism that the US military has not acted fast enough to restore order.

The interim administration would consist of returned exiles and local Iraqis, representing Iraq's ethnic and religious spectrum, Mr Garner said.

He cited as likely members: Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, whose elder brother heads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

Mosul election

A Christian and another Sunni would also be likely to join the leadership.

I want TV going to the people ... with a soft demeanour, programmes they want to see
Jay Garner

Meanwhile, in the first vote in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was ousted last month, rival ethnic groups in the northern city of Mosul were set to elect an interim council on Monday.

American troops established a strong security presence at the community hall where the voting is to take place.

More than 200 delegates from different ethnic and religious groups will elect a chamber of council members and then immediately choose a mayor from a list of candidates.

Public services pledge

The council will consist of three Kurds, one Christian, one Assyrian, one Turkmen and seven Arabs inside the city; along with one Yezidian, one Christian and three Muslims from tribes outside Mosul, brigade commander Colonel Joseph Anderson said.

Mr Garner has said he expected the newly-appointed career diplomat Paul Bremer to arrive in Iraq next week to oversee the political process within the post-war administration.

Zubaidi was accused of sabotaging US reconstruction efforts

"He will get more involved in the political process. I'm doing all of it and don't want to do all of it."

Mr Garner said in May there would be a concentration on getting public services up and running again.

He also expressed disappointment that the Iraqi population were still unable to watch television.

"I want TV going to the people ... with a soft demeanour, programmes they want to see."

Mr Garner is to visit a school, a hospital and an oil refinery as well as hold talks with a sheikh in Basra on Monday.

The BBC's Frank Gardner
"He [Jay Garner] says May is going to be critical in the development of Iraq to a post-war democracy"


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