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Al-Ja'fari Indicates He May Step Aside As Candidate --> Supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari take to the street during a Rally in Baghdad's al-Sadr City, April 4 (epa) April 20, 2006 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari has indicated he would consider stepping aside as a candidate to retain his post, a move that could lead to a potential breakthrough in the country's political standoff.

Al-Ja'fari released a letter today suggesting that he would quit if his Shi'ite-led allies now "deem it appropriate" to pick another candidate for prime minister.

Shortly after this development, a planned session of parliament was postponed until April 22. The extra time would allow further political discussions on this issue.

Leaders of the Shi'ite-led United Iraqi Alliance are also set to meet on April 22 to vote on whether to keep al-Ja'fari as their nominee for that post.

Al-Ja'fari faces strict opposition from Kurdish and Sunni parties, who blame him for failing to end sectarian violence.

(compiled from agency reports)

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