Iraqis are frustrated 
with their occupiers (file)

Protesters in Alramadi, 110 kilometres west of Baghdad,  demonstrated against US soldiers raiding homes and mosques in search of weapons.

They also accused occupation troops of preventing them from praying at the mosque.

There was no comment from American forces or independent sources.

Meanwhile, thousands of sacked Iraqi soldiers took to the streets in Baghdad demanding to be paid wages and compensation. They threatened to take up arms unless they recieved payments.

Frustration among Iraqis is on the rise, as violence and looting continues to grip the country. Water and electricity are not in regular supply.

Conference cancelled

In other developments, the US-led team in Iraq said it would select a political council of 25-30 members instead of holding a long-promised national conference, which had been set for this month. The advisory council, to be chosen within six weeks, will act as a fledgling government.

The council will advise the occupation administration on economic and political issues and name advisors to all Iraqi ministries. But officials stressed that “ultimate authority” would remain with occupation forces.  

Aljazeera's correspondent in Baghdad said that most leading political figures had expected the conference to be cancelled.

Iraqi political groups have been anxious to see the creation of a national conference that will pave the way for a US-controlled transitional authority.

The US administration gave no reason for the cancellation. But Reuters quoted an unnamed US official as saying the change was driven by an "enormous and complicated agenda" for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The US plan was presented to a seven-member body consisting of former Iraqi exiles. The body will debate, ratify and put to a referendum a new constitution, which will be drawn up by a separate convention.

Occupation officials said the council would consult with other Iraqi groups and individuals.

However, officials gave no timetable for holding elections saying this depended on the “constitutional process” which is an “Iraqi process”.

Western officials dismissed suggestions of dividing the leadership council between former Iraqi exiles and those who had remained in the country. They are due to meet on Monday.