Iraqi Governing Council Chooses Leader, at Last (REUTERS) By Huda Majeed Saleh BAGHDAD, IRAQ 07/30/03 12:27 PM ET)
Reuters News Service
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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq´s U.S-backed Governing Council named a
Shi´ite politician as its first leader on Wednesday, after adopting a
rotating presidency that will give representatives of all major
groups a turn at being in charge.
Ibrahim Jaafari, a medical doctor who is the spokesman of the Shi´ite
Da´wa party, was chosen as the first president of the self-rule body.
After more than two weeks of laborious discussion, the Governing
Council of 25 Iraqis decided Tuesday that nine of its members --
drawn from various religious, ethnic and political factions -- would
take turns at being president.
Each will serve for a month. Jaafari will be followed by Iraqi
National Congress head Ahmed Chalabi.
Others who will get a turn at leading the council are Abdul Aziz al-
Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
(SCIRI); Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani; Iyad
Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord; Muhsin Abdul Hameed of the Iraqi
Islamic Party; Shi´ite scholar Muhammed Bahr al-Uloum, and former
Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi.
"The principle of a monthly rotating presidency was adopted to give a
chance to the nine members," Jaafari told Reuters. "It will end, God
willing, as soon as possible when the occupation ends and Iraq
achieves political independence."
One of the council´s tasks is to select ministers to work alongside
"We will start discussing ministers next week and we hope it will not
take a long time to resolve," Jaafari said.
Members of the council have insisted the choice of a rotating
president and the delay in reaching a decision are not signs that the
council is divided.
"There are no disputes over this issue. It is a reasonable and
logical decision," SCIRI´s Hakim said Wednesday.
The United States has hailed the council, which first met on July 13,
as Iraq´s first step toward democracy since the U.S.-led invasion
that toppled Saddam Hussein in April.
Although it has some limited powers, final control of Iraq still
rests with U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer.
Choosing a leader was one of the first tasks of the council, which is
also supposed approve next year´s budget and decide policy on
economic reform and electoral laws.
Hakim said he hoped it would not take long to work out a permanent
constitution and hold a referendum to approve it ahead of elections
for a fully sovereign Iraqi government that could take over from the
widely resented U.S.-led occupation.
"We hope that the transitional period will be as short as possible
because we do not want the occupation and we want to achieve Iraq´s
independence as soon as possible," he said.
(© Reuters 2003 07/30/03)
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