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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Shi'ite Politicians in Iraq Call on Prime Minister to Step Down

01 April 2006

Shi'ite politicians in Iraq are calling on Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to step down.

A senior member of the majority Shi'ite Alliance, Qassim Daoud, said Saturday he is asking Mr. Jaafari, also a Shi'ite, to step down to make way for a unity government.

This is the first time Shi'ite leaders have called publicly for Mr. Jaafari to withdraw his nomination to be Iraq's next prime minister. But aides to the prime minister say he will not step down.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says a helicopter has gone down southwest of Baghdad. Officials say it was on routine patrol and the status of the crew is unknown.

The military also reported Saturday the bodies of six Iraqis were found Thursday in a car in Western Baghdad.

The bodies were bound and blindfolded. Iraqi authorities are investigating.

During weeks of negotiations between Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds on forming a new government, Mr. Jaafari has emerged as an obstacle to an agreement. Sunnis and Kurds allege that he is a divisive and ineffective leader.

The United States has been pressuring Iraqi politicians to form a new government, which Washington believes will help stem the violence. Washington has hinted it would not oppose Mr. Jaafari leaving his post if that would clear the way for a new government.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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