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U.S. shakes up Iraq interim team

President Bush sits with Paul Bremer at the White House on May 6.
President Bush sits with Paul Bremer at the White House on May 6.

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(CNN) -- Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, interim U.S. administrator of Iraq, will turn over command "within weeks" to former U.S. diplomat L. Paul Bremer III, appointed Tuesday as presidential envoy to the country, a senior Defense Department official said Sunday.

"It has been the plan all along that once Bremer got his feet on the ground" that Garner would give up his role, the official said.

Garner had said early on that he expected his term would last about three months, but this transition comes at a time that would cut that to about two months.

Bremer, a counterterrorism expert, was appointed presidential envoy by President Bush on Tuesday.

In addition, Barbara Bodine, U.S. coordinator for central Iraq in charge of Baghdad, will leave her position Sunday after just three weeks on the job, a senior U.S. official said. (Full story)

Bodine, who effectively was the interim mayor of Baghdad, will take a job at the State Department in Washington, and the move was not unexpected, the official said.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition force commander Gen. Tommy Franks announced Sunday the end of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.

A coalition radio announcer Sunday read Franks' statement in Arabic. "The Iraqi Baath Socialist Party is dissolved," it said.

Employees of Iraqi ministries are required to sign a form disavowing the Baath Party, which ruled Iraq for 35 years, before they can receive their pay.

The form declares the party "disestablished and abolished." Franks' statement also asked Iraqis to collect documents and information about the Baath Party and hand it over to coalition officials.

Other developments

• Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iranian opposition group designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, has agreed to turn over its weapons to U.S. forces, U.S. Central Command said. It is one of the groups making up the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, which opposes Iran's Islamist government. Central Command said Saturday the "voluntary consolidation" of the group's forces would take place over the next few days. The group had agreed to a cease-fire in mid-April.

• The last intact building of Iraqi TV -- the network run by Saddam's regime -- was destroyed by a fire Saturday. U.S. officials said the two-story building in western Baghdad was empty and that no one was injured. It was not immediately clear whether the fire was intentionally set.

• The senior coalition ground commander in Iraq said Saturday the country is "taking steps forward" despite lingering power outages and scattered crime including gang activity and looting. "To be very honest about it, we're in a period of transition. We're in a power-vacuum period, if you will, where a regime that had a very centralized control over all of Iraq -- that controlled everything -- is gone," Lt. Gen. David McKiernan said.

• In the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the World Health Organization has confirmed four cases of cholera. WHO said dozens more people may have the potentially fatal illness. (More about cholera) Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine. In severe cases, it can lead to dehydration and shock, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness can be prevented and treated easily, but WHO spokesman Ian Simpson said conditions in Basra make it difficult to do either. The disease has a fatality rate of more than 50 percent if it is not treated, he said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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