Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Chalabi Withdraws Bid to Be Next Iraqi PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq Feb 22, 2005 — Interim Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari was chosen Tuesday to be his Shiite ticket's candidate for prime minister after Ahmad Chalabi dropped his bid, senior alliance officials said.

Pressure from within the ranks of the winning United Iraqi Alliance forced the withdrawal of Chalabi, a one-time Pentagon favorite, said Hussein al-Moussai from the Shiite Political Council, an umbrella group for 38 Shiite parties.

"They wanted him to withdraw. They didn't want to push the vote to a secret ballot," al-Moussawi said.

The 140 members were to put the decision between Chalabi and al-Jaafari to a secret ballot by Tuesday's end.

The decision came after three days of round-the-clock negotiations by senior members of the United Iraqi Alliance, which emerged from the Jan. 30 elections with a 140-seat majority in the 275-member parliament, or National Assembly.

The office of Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, confirmed that Chalabi had withdrawn his bid to be prime minister.