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Bremer, Iraqi Political Leaders Discuss Country's Future - 2003-06-06


The heads of several political parties in Iraq met Friday with the top U.S. official in the country in an effort to try to reach a consensus on Iraq's political future.

Dozens of political parties have emerged in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was ousted from power two months ago.

Friday, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, met behind closed doors with the leaders of several of those parties to discuss his decision to scrap a national convention that he had said would take place in July.

Mr. Bremer said earlier this week he wants to establish a political council made up of 25 to 30 people. An aide to Mr. Bremer said the issue of the council was the primary reason for Friday's meeting with the political leaders.

The council would be the interim administration in Iraq and its members would be considered ministers and would oversee all aspects of Iraq's internal affairs.

However, in accordance with a resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council last month, the ultimate authority in Iraq will remain with the coalition until a new Iraqi government is chosen following nationwide elections. An official with Mr. Bremmer's office told VOA the process could take as long as two years.

The council would also be responsible for working with a separate, much larger group of more than 100 Iraqis that would draft a new Iraqi constitution, setting the stage for a national referendum followed by nationwide elections.

Mr. Bremer's decision to scrap the national convention has angered several political parties in Iraq. He had called for it when he first arrived in Iraq almost one month ago. At the time, he said the convention would elect delegates who would then draft a new constitution.

One of the groups that has expressed its opposition to the cancellation of the convention is the Iraqi National Congress. The party's leadership is made up primarily of former Iraqi exiles who have returned to Iraq and want a role in the country's political future.

On Wednesday, the INC promised to go ahead with plans to hold a national conference without U.S. participation, saying the United States can't cancel a conference that is led by Iraqis.

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