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Al-Sadr Rejects Interim Iraqi Government

4 June 2004 -- Radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr today rejected Iraq's new interim government as an illegitimate, U.S.-appointed body.

An aide to Al-Sadr, who has led an anti-U.S. fight for weeks, told followers in the southern city of Al-Kufah that the militant cleric will accept nothing but an Iraqi government elected by the people.

He also condemned the role of the United Nations in assembling the interim government, which was announced on 1 June by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said four U.S. soldiers were killed and five injured after a blast hit their convoy in Baghdad. Earlier, three U.S. soldiers were wounded and a number of Shi'ite militiamen killed in clashes in Baghdad.

Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, told the UN SecurityCouncil in New York yesterday that U.S.-led forces should stay in Iraq to prevent chaos and possible civil war.