Iraqi Health Minister Forced Out After Refusing to Renounce Baath Party

The temporary Iraqi Health Ministry chief hand-picked by the United States resigned after just 10 days on the job after drawing widespread protests for his close ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, coalition radio announced Tuesday.

Dr. Ali Shenan al-Janabi had refused to renounce the party, the U.S.-controlled Voice of New Iraq radio station said, quoting the ministry.

Al-Janabi, an optometrist who was the ministry's No. 3 man under Saddam's regime, as temporary head of the ministry on May 3 triggered protests by hundreds of doctors and pharmacists. They marched last week to demand his removal.

Stephen Browning, senior adviser to the Health Ministry from the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, had earlier praised al-Janabi, describing him as a "Baath party member who is not associated with criminal activities."

But the Health Ministry, in a statement read Tuesday, said Browning had accepted al-Janabi's resignation "due to his refusal to condemn the Baath Party (search)." It did not elaborate.

"Dr. Ali will be assigned as a specialist physician at Ibn al-Haitham Hospital," a female announcer said. "Mr. Browning added that Dr. Ali is a respected gentleman and that he appreciates what he offered the transitional government."

The newly arrived American civilian administrator for Iraq, meanwhile, faced daunting tasks during his first full day in Baghdad on Tuesday: restoring security, power, clean water and other services to an Iraqi capital demanding them back.

L. Paul Bremer (search), who arrived in the U.S.-occupied country Monday, made his first stop in the southern city of Basra, where he conferred with British officials in charge of establishing order. He then flew to Baghdad, where his reconstruction agency is headquartered.

Bremer will become the boss of the current U.S. administrator, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner (search), who has faced severe criticism in Iraq and ridicule in foreign capitals for his slowness in re-establishing public order, preventing looting and restoring utilities and other basic government services throughout the country.

Bremer had been scheduled to hold his first news conference on Tuesday. It was announced prominently to journalists, then canceled via e-mail three hours before it was set to begin.

The arrival of Bremer coincided with a wide-ranging shake-up in the U.S. administration in Iraq formed after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Bremer said former U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine (search), who was coordinator for Baghdad and the rest of central Iraq, was being reassigned back to Washington by the State Department "for their own reasons."

Other U.S. officials are also said to be slated for replacement.

Meanwhile, the acting coach of Iraq's national soccer team (search) announced the side will be reassembled and begin training this week for upcoming international competition.

"We will train four times a week to be ready for the matches," Adnan Hamad said. "Iraq will be fully prepared for the Olympic qualifiers." He urged all members of the former national team, which disintegrated in the run-up to the war, to report to Baghdad's al-Karkh stadium.

The end of the war has been welcomed by the world soccer community, which says it wants to get the soccer-mad country reintegrated into international competitions as soon as possible. But all contact with the Iraq Football Association and FIFA (search), the sport's ruling body, has been broken since before the start of the conflict.

Iraq's soccer organization used to be run by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Odai. There have been reports that Odai, who also oversaw Iraq's Olympic Committee, tortured players who failed to perform to his standards.

Currently, the team is managed by German coach Bernd Stange (search). He, too, left Baghdad when the conflict broke out and has not yet returned.

Criticism of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq continued in many countries.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (search) said the war is now being seen by Muslims everywhere as an attempt by Washington to frighten Islamic nations.

"We can expect no protection from international organizations like the U.N. since powerful countries like the United States and Britain can attack Iraq without the sanction of the U.N.," Mahathir, one of Asia's longest-serving leaders, said at a dinner late Monday for visiting German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Germany, along with France, Russia and China, was a key opponent of U.S. military action in Iraq.