Five longtime Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein agreed Thursday to broaden the membership of their informal council -- the potential core of a new government -- by adding a Shiite Muslim group and the son of an old-guard democrat.
The group of anti-Hussein leaders, a majority of whose members have returned from long periods abroad during his rule, says it wants a role for local Iraqis as the new administration is built. There has been criticism that former exiles were taking a disproportionate amount of power.
At the same time, the leaders have offered to help the Americans weed out former members of Hussein’s Baath Party from a future government. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that anyone installed in the new interim administration would be purged if found to have been a senior member of the party.
In a meeting with U.S. officials Thursday, Ahmad Chalabi, head of the exile group Iraqi National Congress, said the informal council discussed the formation of a provisional government and a provisional National Assembly.
The opposition figures joined forces with the Iran-based Shiite group Al Dawa and with democrat Nasir Kamal Chachachi, whose father, Kamal, was the leader of the National Democratic Party. The party played a leading role in Iraq’s democratic development before the Baathists took power in 1968.