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Iraq: U.S. Administrator Praises New City Council In Mosul

Mosul, Iraq; 18 May (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's U.S.-appointed civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer, made his first visit to Mosul today and said the new city council in the multiethnic northern capital "is a great example of embryonic democracy." Bremer also rejected media reports that the United States plans to suspend the transition to an Iraqi interim authority over the next few weeks. Bremer said there has been no delay in the plan to allow Iraqis to form a national assembly and interim government by the end of this month.

Bremer held talks with Mosul's new mayor, Ghanim al-Basso, as well as other council members.

Security was tight outside the council building as two separate groups of protestors gathered -- former Iraqi army officers demanding back pay, and Arab villagers displaced by Kurds returning to their homes.

City councillor Hunain al-Qaddo said Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, which Bremer has vowed to eradicate, remained a major challenge for the U.S.-led coalition.