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Al-Hakim succeeds father as head of largest Shia political party

Ammar al-Hakim, the son of powerful Iraqi politician Abdel Aziz al-Hakim who died of lung cancer last week, was chosen to succeed his father as head of Iraq's largest Shia political party during a meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday.


AFP - Ammar al-Hakim, son of the powerful Iraqi politician Abdel Aziz al-Hakim who died of lung cancer last week, on Tuesday succeeded his father as leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, officials said.

Ammar, 38, was chosen to head the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) during a meeting in Baghdad, the party officials said.

"We will do our best to let the supreme council take its special position in the political process with the cooperation of other political forces," the new leader, who has played a more prominent role in the party after his father's health deteriorated, told reporters after his appointment.

Hakim's father, a former chain smoker, died in a Tehran hospital on August 26 after a 28-month battle against cancer, triggering a vacancy at the head of the SIIC.

The 60-year-old was hailed as "leader of the fight" against the tyrannical reign of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, when his body arrived back in Iraq and was buried amid frenzied scenes in the holy city of Najaf on Saturday.

Hakim was one of the principal leaders in exile of the opposition to Saddam, who waged a devastating 1980-88 war against Iran.

In 1982, Hakim helped to establish an opposition movement in Iran against Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime and only returned to Iraq following the US-led invasion of 2003.

A scion of one of the traditional leading families among Iraq's Shiite majority, Hakim took over the leadership of his party in August 2003 after his brother Mohammed Baqr was killed.

Their father, Grand Ayatollah Mohsen al-Hakim, was one of Shiite Islam's top spiritual leaders between 1955 and 1970.

The SIIC swept Shiite areas in the first provincial elections after the invasion, but in polls eight months ago the party suffered major losses.

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