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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 14:47 GMT
Saddam aide is new Baath leader
By Peter Greste
BBC News, Baghdad

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, file photo 2002
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri has been declared dead several times
Saddam Hussein's Baath Party has confirmed his successor following the deposed leader's execution on Saturday.

The banned party's website said Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri - Saddam Hussein's deputy for much of his rule - has assumed the leadership.

As deputy Iraqi president, Mr Douri was the thin, red-headed figure usually wearing a military-style beret.

He has been declared dead several times over the past few years. It remains unclear whether he is still alive.

However, the Baath Party posted a statement in his name on the internet.

I vow to pursue the sacred jihad and step it up until the total liberation of our homeland
'Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri's' statement

Mr Douri was the King of Clubs in the US military's deck of cards of wanted figures and he took over notional control of the party and its insurgency after Saddam Hussein's capture in December 2003.

In the message posted on the internet, he called for unity among the insurgents and said Saddam Hussein's death would only strengthen their resolve.

The statement follows widespread protests among the former Iraqi leader's supporters in the Sunni community.

They say the manner of his execution confirms their belief that it had more to do with revenge than justice.

The government has appointed a three-man commission to find out who shouted the taunts and insults just before the hanging and who filmed and distributed an unauthorised video made public soon afterwards.

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