Friday, February 27, 2004

After weeks of deadlock over Iraq's political transition, the country's leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric said yesterday that he would accept a non-elected government installed by US officials on June 30, on condition that it had a narrow mandate and a short life span...

The cleric is almost never seen in public and has declined to meet the top US administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III. But Sistani's views hold immense sway over Iraq's estimated 15 million Shi'ites, with the power to mobilize huge numbers of people to support him.

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