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British appoint tribal leader for Basra area
April 08, 2003 17:30 IST
The British Army said on Tuesday it had appointed a tribal chief to provide civilian leadership in Iraq's southern Basra province now that forces loyal to President Saddam Hussein had been ousted by UK troops.
Army spokesman, Colonel Chris Vernon, said at a news conference in neighbouring Kuwait that Britain wanted to hand authority on law and order to whatever remained of the police once UK troops completely stabilised the security situation in and around Basra.
"This is not a former Yugoslavia. This is not an Afghanistan. Basically what we see in the Basra province is a broadly functioning civil infrastructure," he said, speaking a day after British forces entered the heart of Iraq's second largest city.
"We have been approached by a local tribal leader, a sheikh, I'm not going to name him at this stage, and local divisional commanders met him last night," Vernon said.
"He will form, at present, the leadership within the Basra province and we have asked him to form a committee from the local community that is representative of the local community.
"We have ascertained that he is worthwhile, credible and has authority in the local area particularly with the tribal chiefs and that is the basis on which we have done it. He will now form his own committee. Who he wishes to come onto that is entirely up to him and we will take him at his word."
Vernon said looting was continuing in the city of 1.5 million and British troops were in the final stages of making the city secure.
"We're at the moment still just trying to cement the security situation and then we will turn our attention to the law-and-order issue. We are trying to utilise what is left of the police force," he said.