US troops uncover ''large weapons cache'' as Iraq top Shiite cleric rejects provisional assembly plan
Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani's, demanded the next legislature be elected, denying Washington's crucial backing for its plan to let regional caucuses select a provisional assembly.
According to the American plan, a transitional Iraqi assembly - to be chosen by regional committees - would select an interim government ahead of full elections in the year 2005.
However, al-Sistani, who met Sunday with officials from the US-picked Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, said the US plan would give birth to an "illegitimate Iraqi government".
"This will, in turn, give rise to new problems and the political and security situation will deteriorate," al-Sistani said in a statement released by his office Sunday.
Al-Sistani is the spiritual leader of most of Iraq's majority Shiites.
In addition, Al-Sistani said only an elected legislature can ratify the presence of US-led occupation troops beyond July 1, a designated date for the handover of sovereignty to Iraqis.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, the US military announced that US troops uncovered a "large weapons cache" on Friday with the assistance of an Iraqi in Ramadi, located west of Baghdad.
The Iraqi reportedly led the troops to a house, where they found dozens of rocket-propelled grenades and a handful of launchers, nearly 220 pounds of explosives, 16 remote controlled homemade bombs and two surface-to-air missiles, a statement said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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