Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has rejected growing
pressure on him to resign, saying Iraqis must be left to choose their leader
Iraq's Prime Minister
Ibrahim al-Jaafari (R) meets top Iraqi army officers in the heavily
fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2006.
In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, Jaafari
brushed aside calls from opponents and some political allies to step aside to
break a political deadlock.
Although Jaafari has been nominated as Iraq's next prime minister, his
appointment has yet to be confirmed.
Jaafari's critics and some allies have called for him to step aside, saying
the Shi'ite leader cannot bring the needed unity and security.
"There is a decision that was reached by a democratic mechanism and I stand
with it," he told the newspaper. "We have to protect democracy in Iraq and it is
democracy which should decide who leads Iraq."
The United States and Britain have said that Iraq's failure to appoint a new
government four months after elections is undermining security.
On a visit to Baghdad at the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice said the Iraqi people were "losing patience" with the delay on forming a
Jaafari said no consensus had been reached during talks with Rice and her
British counterpart, Jack Straw.
"I heard their points of view even though I disagree with them," he told the
Guardian. "People will react if they see the rules of democracy being disobeyed.
"Every politician and every friend of Iraq should not want people to be
Talks over forming a new government after parliamentary elections in December
have stalled on the uncertainty over Jaafari's future.
Jaafari, who won his alliance's nomination to keep the top job in a vote in
February, has previously condemned U.S. "interference" in Iraq's new democracy.