Anti-occupation Iraqi group forms

About 500 Iraqis met in Baghdad on Saturday to set up a national political force free of US influence to push for a handover of sovereignty under the auspices of the United Nations.

The United Iraqi Scholars Group – which appointed a 16-strong leadership panel – has vowed to boycott any political group set up by the US and called for a stronger army than the small force envisioned by the US-led coalition.

After a five-hour conference, the group said its agenda was based on “legitimate resistance to end the occupation” and keep Iraq united.

The group of moderate Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as Kurds also demanded the US-appointed Governing Council should be sidelined.

Shaikh Jawad al-Khalisi, a senior Shia cleric who will head the group, said it wanted the handover of power to Iraqis on 30 June “done under the umbrella of the United Nations and not the CPA”, the US-led occupying authority since last March’s invasion.

[Source: Al Jazeera]

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