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Iraqi PM Gives Shi'ite Militiamen Final Warning

19 August 2004 -- Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi today issued a "final call" for Shi'ite militiamen to disarm and vacate a holy shrine in Al-Najaf.

Allawi, speaking at a news conference in Baghdad, called on radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to declare personally that he accepts the interim government's demands.

"There is a very simple procedure. That he [al-Sadr] abides by the resolution of the National Conference and by the conditions of the Iraqi government, to lay down the arms, dismantle his militias, leave the holy shrines, and there is a lot of space for him to join the political process," Allawi said.

Allawi set no deadline. Earlier today, a cabinet minister threatened al-Sadr with decisive military action if he failed to comply immediately.

Al-Sadr aides rejected the ultimatum, although the radical Shi'ite cleric yesterday appeared willing to accept the government's demands.


Factbox: Iraq's Holy City of Al-Najaf

For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".