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Shi'ite Leader: Sunnis To Name New Speaker Candidate

Interim President al-Yawir (file photo) Baghdad, 30 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iraqi Shi'ite leader Ali al-Dabbagh told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) that although the transitional National Assembly failed to nominate a Sunni as speaker of the parliament on 29 March, Sunni leaders are expected to submit new candidates for the position in the coming days.

Al-Dabbagh told RFI: "The Sunnis didn't have a candidate until now. We don't want to force them. We don't want to forward our candidate and to force them to accept it. We also are not allowing the others to have their candidates [forced on] the Sunnis. So, the Sunnis are asking [us] to give them a few more days to [present] their candidates, and then we don't have [but] only to accept their demands. Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawir, [was nominated on 29 March] and then he said 'I am not the president of the National Assembly.' We have to find somebody else. Another person is not easy to find because the Sunnis should approve it. The Sunnis should approve a name that will be accepted by the others."

Regarding media reports that interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi walked out of the 29 March assembly session in frustration, Allawi's spokesman Tha'ir al-Naqib told RFI: "The prime minister is very eager and he was very delighted that the National Assembly held a meeting and he was pushing forward; he did send a letter to the chairman of the National Assembly to hold the meeting and form a government as soon as possible. The prime minister waited for three hours; the meeting [was] supposed to be held at 11 a.m., it [wasn't] held until 2:00 so he waited for three hours. He had a very important meeting in his office, that's why he left. We keep pushing forward to form a new government, a new National Assembly, and we are going to participate in all the meetings, all the discussions regarding this issue."

(RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq)