Report: Iraqi President Considering Retirement
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is considering stepping down in September and "leaving" the presidency to his son Qusay, according to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper on Friday.
If he does so, it could open the way to a "complete settlement" of Iraq's problems with the international community, including the impasse over sanctions, the paper said, cited by the Guardian newspaper.
Quoting an unidentified European diplomat, it said Qusay's recent promotion in the Ba'ath Party and the expansion of his responsibilities marked "the first step in a series which will reach its climax in September, when Saddam will announce his resignation in favor of his younger son."
Iraq-watchers were overwhelmingly skeptical, said the Guardian.
A spokesman for the US-backed opposition, the Iraqi National Congress, dismissed it instantly.
"It's like a story from the 'Thousand and One Nights,'" he said.
"Saddam has such a grip he won't give power to his son," he told the Guardian.
But according to the diplomat quoted by Al Hayat, Saddam will retain "an honorary post" close to the presidency after retiring.
Although the removal of Hussein is a declared US goal, it is not among the conditions set by the UN Security Council for the lifting of sanctions.
The resignation scenario may have been floated to see if it would lead to a thaw in international relations, the Guardian added.
The diplomat was quoted as saying that Washington and other capitals were being consulted about it and it would only take place if the Americans agreed.
According to the UK paper, the rivalry between his sons Uday, 38, and Qusay, 35, has led to fears of a bloodbath if Saddam Hussein were to die in office.
Uday has a playboy image but is described by opposition groups as a “rapist and serial killer.”
Qusay, who runs the Special Security Organization and the Republican Guard, is considered a slightly less undesirable successor, the paper added – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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