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."