Scientist 'rejects Iraq PM job'

Wext: Thursday, 27.May. @ 00:00:00 CEST

Mijar:

27.05.2004 - A top nuclear scientist tipped to become prime minister in the new Iraqi cabinet will not be taking the job after all, the UN envoy in Iraq said.
Hussein Shahristani, 62, a Shia Muslim jailed under Saddam Hussein, had been seen as an ideal candidate.

But Lakhdar Brahimi said in a statement Mr Shahristani had said he would rather "serve his country in other ways".

Mr Brahimi is choosing an interim Iraqi government in consultation with US presidential envoy Robert Blackwill.

The government will take power after the official 30 June return of sovereignty to Baghdad.

Mr Brahimi quashed press speculation that the new government line-up had been finalised, though he said he wanted to reach his conclusions "very soon".

U-turn

Despite expressing great reluctance, Mr Shahristani had earlier indicated he would accept the post as prime minister.

But the statement from Mr Brahimi's spokesman Ahmed Fawzi makes clear he has decided not to.

Mr Brahimi "has no doubt that Mr Shahristani could serve his country well in a number of positions in government," said the statement.

"Mr Shahristani, however, has himself clarified that he would prefer to serve his country in other ways", the statement said, without going into further details.

The statement was issued "in order to ensure that wrong conclusions are not drawn", the spokesman said.

The Washington Post newspaper had on Wednesday cited a senior official from the State Department as saying Mr Shahristani was the leading candidate.

Washington says it is looking for a Shia Muslim who is not too close to any faction or party, but also not so much of a technocrat that he has no political standing.

'Progressing'

The statement also said Mr Brahimi said "not yet finalised his recommendations on any positions in the new Iraqi government, contrary to speculation otherwise".

Mr Brahimi has set himself an end-of-May deadline to get an agreement with Iraqis on the final shape of the government.

"Progress is being made, however, and [Mr Brahimi] remains of the view that it needs to be - and can be - brought to closure very soon so that the new government will have sufficient time to prepare to assume power and engage in meaningful consultations on the forthcoming [UN] Security Council resolution," the statement said.

Adnan Pachachi, a Sunni who was foreign minister in the 1960s, is expected to be appointed the next president, according to a US official.

Also under consideration are potential candidates for the position of vice president in the new government.

Leading names include Ibrahim Jaafari, a doctor from the Shia Dawa Party, and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani.


Source: BBC









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