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Iraqi Opposition Ponders Framework for Transition to Post-Saddam Government - 2002-11-18

While leaders of the Iraqi opposition wrangle over who should participate in a planning session for Iraq's future, lower-level technocrats are busy mapping out the nuts and bolts of a future government after Saddam Hussein. They are convinced that time will come.

Iraqi exile Laith Kubba says the goal should be a federal system governed by the rule of law.

"The end of a transition period can clearly be defined by ... concluding the work of a constitutional assembly that will look at constitutional amendments and electoral law, setting the rules for competition through the ballot box, passing it over to the country, holding election and endorsing it," he said.

Mr. Kubba, who works for the National Endowment for Democracy, has joined other exiled Iraqi professionals to develop a framework for Iraq's transition. He says it is important to keep squabbling opposition groups and tribal leaders from turning a transitional administration into a grab for power.

"If they fight over power, and they will, if power is given to them now, to these political groups, prior to setting the rules how they can get power or share power, if power is simply thrown at them now, it will lead to a fight, and a fight will lead to dictatorship, because that's the only way to have stability, after all. he said.

Mr. Kubba proposes developing permanent political institutions and delegating authority to Iraq's 18 provinces. He says a priority concern is preventing the much-feared disintegration of Iraq into competing Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite enclaves.

Mr. Kubba talks of four political councils, fashioned after the U.S. system of separated executive, legislative and judicial powers. The councils would include representatives from each of the provinces, ethnic communities and political parties from inside and outside the country. According to the plan, one leader each from Iraq's northern Kurdish area, southern Shiite community and the central Sunni population would make up a ruling executive council.

Talib Aziz Alhamdani, who helped found the exiled opposition group, Iraqi National Congress, has been working on the plans, too. He says Iraq has a functioning bureaucracy, which should not be discarded.

"Even within such severe conditions, it survived, and we need to let it survive after that," he said. "For the transitional period, we need to have the bureaucracy, not under the control of the governing security council, but totally separated."

Businessman Rubar Sandi is not worried about the need to search for outside financing for the reconstruction of Iraq's infrastructure.

"Some of the oil money should be put into various infrastructure projects, such as housing. The other part of infrastructure is the electric power plant, and that will create massive jobs. I would say, transportation, roads, water, sewage, and dams, all of these sanitary things, oil pipelines, and refineries, and the social infrastructure, like schools and hospitals that are deteriorated and need to be rebuilt or upgraded," he said.

But Mr. Sandi is concerned about revitalizing Iraq's private sector, fighting rampant corruption and creating jobs for a population impoverished by more than a decade of economic sanctions.

Another key concern is security. Exiled military officers agree that Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence and security apparatus must be purged.

But Brigadier General Tawfik al-Yassiri, who led a failed revolt against Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War, insists there is a role for the military in a post-Saddam Iraq. But first, he said, the army must be demobilized, reformed and kept out of politics.