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Deal to disband Iraq militias announced

U.S. hopes for quick U.N. vote on Iraq


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced a deal Monday to disband nine militias.

The deal calls for most militiamen to join Iraqi security forces or return to civilian life by the beginning of next year.

The agreement excludes the Mehdi Army of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which launched an uprising against coalition forces two months ago.

U.S. forces arranged a truce with the militia Friday, after weeks of skirmishes.

"While recent news has associated the word 'militia' with the sort of violence orchestrated by Muqtada al-Sadr, in fact most of these groups and individuals were part of the resistance against Saddam Hussein's regime," Allawi said.

Al-Sadr's army will officially be outlawed Monday afternoon, according to a senior coalition official. His militia was not approached to take part in the new arrangement.

"No groups were excluded, other than by their own actions," the senior official said. The new law also makes it illegal for al-Sadr to hold office.

In his comments Allawi said, "I am happy to announce today the successful completion of negotiations on the nationwide transition and reintegration of militias and other armed forces previously outside of state control.

"As a result of this achievement, the vast majority of such forces in Iraq -- about 102,000 armed individuals -- will enter either civilian life or one of the state security services, such as the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi police service, or the internal security services of the Kurdish regional government," Allawi said.

Ninety percent of the militias are expected to disband before Iraq's elections, to be held no later than January 2005.

Iraq's interim government is scheduled to assume power at midnight June 30.

U.N. vote could be near

At the United Nations in New York, U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told the Security Council Monday that Iraq's new government will need the world's assistance for some time to come.

"The days and weeks ahead will severely test this new government, and the solution to Iraq's current challenges will take years, not months, to overcome," Brahimi said.

Brahimi's report came as the Security Council prepares to vote on a U.S.- and British-backed resolution that would give the world body's blessing to the interim government and authorize a U.S.-led multinational force to stabilize the country. (Full story)

Earlier, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the Security Council could vote on a proposed resolution within days.

The resolution will be a revision of a draft submitted Friday, but some objections were raised again on Sunday over the plan for military partnership after the U.S.-led occupation officially ends.

Other developments

  • Allegations that Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi gave highly sensitive U.S. intelligence information to Iran are a smear "maliciously put forward by people who don't like him," said Richard Perle, a former top civilian adviser to the Pentagon. "The idea that Ahmed Chalabi -- who has fought for freedom of Iraqis, for a secular, democratic Iraq -- would secretly be working for a theocratic dictatorship in Tehran is absurd," Perle said Monday.
  • A mosque used to store ammunition used by the militia loyal to al-Sadr was burning after an explosion Monday afternoon, according to witnesses. Militia members said an American rocket hit the store of ammunition, igniting the explosion. A senior coalition military official confirmed the explosion but said there were no coalition personnel in the area. The coalition official suggested the blast was related to stores of ammunition kept at the mosque by the Mehdi Army.
  • A group that says it is led by fugitive Islamic militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for two suicide car bombings Sunday that killed eight Iraqis, the U.S. military said. A statement from the Unification and Jihad Group said the bombers targeted the police station in Taji because the officers there were "working hand-in-hand with the crusaders and the occupiers."
  • A mortar attack Sunday evening on a U.S. base at Balad near Baghdad killed one soldier and wounded another, U.S. Central Command said. Both soldiers were assigned to the 13th Corps Support Command. The number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq is 827 since the war began, including 608 in combat.
  • CNN's Liz Neisloss, Jill Dougherty, Chris Burns, Kevin Flower, Stephanie Halasz and Guy Raz contributed to this report.

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