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British remove local Iraqi leader

The British Army in Iraq’s southern city of Basra will replace the city council made up of local residents with a committee of technocrats led by a British military officer.

Last Modified: 25 May 2003 06:49 GMT

The British Army in Iraq’s southern city of Basra will replace the city council made up of local residents with a committee of technocrats led by a British military officer.

British Army to stay firmly in
control of Basra's future

The decision to appoint the commander of the British Seventh Brigade, Brigadier Adrian Bradshaw, as the de facto council leader has sparked an angry reaction from the 30-member council.

The council had been led by a local Iraqi official, vetted by US and UK forces over a month ago. Since then, the committee worked to re-establish civic order in the southern metropolis of Basra with British and US sanction.

Reaction

Supporters of the current council leader, Muzahim al-Tamimi, expressed anger at the British decision, saying the 50-year-old English-speaking businessman had been tipped as a future governor.

Muzahim al-Tamimi:
Dismissed on Thursday

Councillor Abdul Mahdi Suwadi al-Jabri said his colleagues were considering withdrawing their co-operation, in protest at what they regarded as punishment for their attempts to act independently.

He claims the British decision is nothing to do with the Ba'ath party membership allegations, the official reason for al-Tamimi’s dismissal last Thursday.

"They knew from the first that he was a Ba'ath Party official, but that didn't stop them seeking his help," al-Jabri said, adding that all councillors had already been vetted in April.
   
Change in policy

But al-Tamimi’s appointment was made with General Jay Garner’s approval. The new chief administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, announced that occupation forces were moving decisively to eradicate all Ba'ath supporters from public life.

The new body, all of whom will be appointed by the British army, is to include administrators currently responsible for maintaining Basra's public services such as water and electricity.

Alongside the technocrats, a separate civic forum will supervise the transition to an elected Iraqi city council, according to the British military spokesman.

"Unfortunate use of limited force"
in Basra operation

It too will have representatives of the British military, as well as the occupation administration and local politicians. "It will be concerned with political development, with a view to achieving the end state of democratic local government" the British spokesman added.

Ba'ath manhunt

Meanwhile, thirteen British armoured vehicles surrounded three adjacent houses of three brothers suspected of being supporters of the deposed Ba'ath regime in the southern Burathiiya suburb of Basra at 5:00 am, according to local resident Maan Kazim Jawad.
  
He said one British soldier fired three shots at a woman who looked out of the window to see who was banging on the door of her house. Her husband, Baha Kazim, then came out and opened fire, wounding a British soldier.
  
The soldiers hurled grenades on the doors of the three houses and called out the brothers while transferring the woman to a local hospital, Jawad said.
  
"British forces conducted a number of raids on houses in Basra last night … unfortunately, that sort of operation can involve a limited use of force," said a British military spokesman.

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