Jalal Talabani, Kurdish leader, elected Iraq's new interim president

The National Assembly of Iraq elected on Wednesday a presidential council made up of three people: Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, as a president; Adil Abd al-Mahdi (a Shiite) and Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar (a Sunni), the former provisional president, as vice presidents.

The presidential council will have two weeks to name a replacement for Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. This key post will most likely be filled by a Shiite Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the United Iraqi Alliance's candidate. France-Presse reported the announcement may be made as soon as tomorrow.

Ousted members of the former government - including toppled peresident Saddam Hussein - were allowed to watch the event on Wednesday on television in their prison cells, reports Aljazeera.

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