London, Nov. 29 (Reuters): Six Iraqi opposition groups recognised by the US said today they would hold a conference in London next month to prepare to take power if President Saddam Hussein was removed.
Squabbling among the various groups of exiles over the agenda and composition of a conference has thwarted three previous attempts to make plans for a US-backed government in a post-Saddam Iraq. “We will gather on December 13-15 if the British government meets our visa requirements. We are in the process of agreeing on the final agenda and list of participants,” Nabil al-Mousawi, a member of the planning committee, said.
The US has been mediating to help convene the conference but has not committed itself to backing the opposition’s bid for power if Saddam falls from power.
Radio Free Iraq, which is funded by the US, said US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and under secretary of state Marc Grossman would meet opposition leaders in London on Monday. The Prague-based radio said those present would include the six groups as well as Mohammad Bahr al-Ouloum, a prominent Iraqi Shi’ite cleric living in London, and representatives of the country’s Turkmen minority.
Mousawi said the December meet, with some 500 delegates, would elect an opposition leadership committee by consensus. “There will be a vacuum in Iraq and we want to prepare for the technocratic requirements to fill it,” said Mousawi, an official of the Iraqi National Congress.