The US administration has come up with a list of possible changes for Iraq's political transition, with several American and British officials acknowledging for the first time that the original plan could even be scrapped altogether if Washington is to "preempt the growing clamor for elections", according to the Washington Post.
In its Sunday edition, the newspaper, citing UN and US officials, said that in the course of two rounds of talks recently at the UN and Washington, the United States told UN representatives that everything is on the table except the June 30 deadline for handing over power to a new Iraqi government.
"The United States told us that as long as the timetable is respected, they are ready to listen to any suggestion," the paper cited a top UN official as saying.
Washington, according to the report, is publicly "talking tough" about clinging to a "refined" variation of the November 15 accord signed with the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) that outlines the terms of a hand-over.
Iraq's top Shiite leader Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani has rejected a US plan for transferring power through a provisional legislature selected by 18 regional caucuses, insisting on direct elections instead. Sistani's demand for direct elections has rapidly gained wide momentum this month in cities from Baghdad to Najaf and Nasiriyah.
The changes could include expanding participation in 18 streamlined caucuses that would select representatives for a national assembly, which would then pick a cabinet and head of state, US officials said.
However, in private conversations with the United Nations and its coalition partners, the Bush administration has started to review the viability of abandoning the complex caucuses outlined in the agreement and even holding partial elections or simply handing over power to an expanded Iraqi Governing Council, an old proposal currently back on the table, the Post cited US and UN officials as saying. (Albawaba.com)
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