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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Mosul holds landmark vote
Market in Mosul
Full elections could be held in about two years, the US says

Delegates from different ethnic groups in Iraq's third largest city, Mosul, have elected an interim authority to run the area until full elections can be held.

Some 200 representatives cast their votes for a 24-member council at a meeting organised by the United States military.

It is the first time an election process has been held in an Iraqi town or city since Saddam Hussein was ousted and the Americans say it could be a model for the rest of the country.

Correspondents say Mosul, which has seen some fierce anti-US protests, remains volatile.

"You have taken a major step forward for Mosul and Iraq," said Major-General David Petraeus, commanding officer of the 101st Airborne Division, after the election.

"I want to thank the many citizens who worked with us to organise this meeting."

Complex mix

The council's composition is an attempt to reflect the ethnic make-up of Mosul and surrounding areas.

Although Arabs are in the majority, Mosul has a sizeable Kurdish minority, which includes sub-groups, as well as Turkmen and Assyrian Christian groups.

However, US commanders acknowledged that without a reliable census there had been a certain amount of guesswork in estimating the size of different communities, AFP reported.

Delegates also chose an Arab mayor, retired army general Ghanim al-Basso, who pledged to work closely with the US-led troops in the city.

"This is the first step on the road to democracy. I promise I will be a faithful soldier," he said to loud applause from the delegates, meeting under tight security at the Mosul Social Club.

Also chosen were a Kurdish deputy mayor as well as two assistant mayors from the Turkmen and Assyrian Christian communities.

In the past few weeks, there have been violent anti-American protests in the city.

It is only recently that relative calm has returned.

US forces have emphasised this will be an interim government until full elections are held, although this could take up to two years.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Fiona Werge
"It's the first vote in the country since Saddam was ousted"




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