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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Plans for rival Iraqi leadership
Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr
Al-Sadr has supporters among Iraq's radical Shias
A radical Shia cleric in Iraq has given details of plans to set up an administration to rival the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

Muqtada al-Sadr told the BBC that the new administration would operate alongside the Council.

It would be up the Iraqi people to decide which they preferred, he added.

The statement came as China told the United States that any new United Nations resolution on Iraq should give the UN a greater role.

Mr al-Sadr - an outspoken opponent of the US presence in Iraq - commands a militia that supporters say is 10,000 strong.

However the BBC's Martin Asser in Baghdad says most Iraqi Shias do not share his views.

US DRAFT'S KEY POINTS
Bigger UN role
Progressive handover of power to Iraqis
New constitution and elections
Multi-national force under unified command
Effective Iraqi police and security forces
Full range of loans for reconstruction

The cleric's militia has warned US troops to stay out of the mainly Shia district of Sadr City of the Iraqi capital.

The warning followed violence in the area in recent days, including a suicide bombing that killed 10 people at a police station and the death of two US soldiers in an ambush.

Mr al-Sadr first announced plans to set up a rival administration during weekly prayers on Friday.

On Sunday, he told the BBC's Arabic service that he intended to seek the support of neighbouring countries - particularly those which had refused to send troops to Iraq.

Differences

The announcement comes as the United States continues its efforts to promote a UN Security Council draft resolution on the future of Iraq.

Iraqi man and US soldier
The US wants others to commit troops and money to Iraq

Washington wants other countries to commit troops to the US-led multinational force in Iraq and contribute money to the post-war reconstruction effort.

However a number of Security Council members - led by France - are calling for a quick transfer of sovereignty to the Governing Council and more power for the UN.

On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told US Secretary of State Colin Powell in a telephone conversation that any new resolution should give the UN "a bigger role".

"China expects relevant parties to narrow their differences and reach consensus soon," China's official Xinhua news agency quotes Mr Li as saying.


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