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Coalition to Hand Over Power to Iraqi Transitional Government by June - 2003-11-15


The U.S.-led administration in Iraq will hand over power to a transitional government by next June. The Bush administration has already accepted the broadly-outlined plans to accelerate the transfer of power.

The announcement came Saturday following talks between the 24-member Governing Council and top U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, just back from consultations in Washington.

Council member Ahmad Chalabi told reporters a draft law would be written for the transition period before February and the selection of a transitional government would be completed before next June. The new governing body would oversee the writing of a constitution and the convening of elections for a permanent government.

Members of the transitional government may include current members of the Iraqi Governing Council. Mr. Chalabi says members will come from every segment of Iraqi society through provincial and town meetings.

"The Governing Council will participate in an open discussion and dialogue with the widest possible selection of Iraqi personalities, political, religious, social and all other citizens so that largest part of all Iraqis can be assured of a new political system in Iraq and we seek God's assistance for success," he said.

Mr. Bremer returned to Baghdad on Friday after three days of urgent meetings with Bush administration officials in Washington to discuss options for speeding up the transfer of power to Iraqis.

The White House eventually agreed to plans to give full power to an Iraqi provisional government, an idea it had earlier rejected as being "unworkable."

The Bush administration had hoped the U.S. appointed Governing Council could quickly draft a constitution before transferring sovereignty to a permanent government.

But council members became bogged down on details over how the constitution should be written, creating delays that alarmed and frustrated coalition officials.

Weeks of increasingly violent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq added pressure on the Bush administration to speed up the turnover of power to Iraqis.

Senior Governing Council member Adnan Pachachi praised the U.S. decision. He says most council members believe it is the right way to promote a peaceful, democratic future in Iraq.

"I think they responded to our insistent desire that we should recover our sovereignty and we should have an elected government eventually. So, it is by agreement and I'm very glad to see that our point of view and their point of view have coincided," he said.

Council members say the establishment of a transitional government would not necessarily mean all coalition troops would leave Iraq. But they say the new government would be in charge of regulating coalition troop presence in the country.

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