Shiite Leadership in Iraq Opposes Parts of Power-Transfer Plan

From Associated Press

Iraq's powerful Shiite Muslim leadership declared its opposition Wednesday to the U.S. plan for indirect elections for a provisional administration, complicating American hopes for a smooth transfer of power to Iraqis by July 1.

Objections were raised by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's most influential Shiite leader, and spelled out publicly by Abdelaziz Hakim, a Shiite member of the Iraqi Governing Council, who met with the cleric.

Hakim told reporters that Sistani had expressed "deep concern over real loopholes" in the power-transfer plan.

Under the plan, members of a transitional national assembly would be chosen in regional caucuses. The assembly would in turn elect a provisional government to take power by July 1.

Hakim said it would be preferable "for an election to be held for a transitional national assembly."

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