Tuesday, July 08, 2003

In the Iraqi capital yesterday, a polyglot city council met for the first time, bringing together a range of members -- from tribal leaders in headdresses to women in smart business suits. The role of the 37-member advisory body -- which has no spending authority -- is to advise the U.S.-led administration.

"It's probably the most important day since April 9, when the coalition came and liberated you from the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein," said L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. official in Iraq. "Today marks the resumption of the democratic system in Baghdad, which hasn't been here in 30 years."...

"You have courageously chosen to serve the public at a time when malicious people in Baghdad threaten the peace and security of this city," Bremer said.

The U.S. administration screened council members for ties to Saddam's Baath Party and nullified the election of "four or five" Baathists, said Army Lt. Col. Joe Rice, a council adviser.

Once the country's constitution is written and a census and voter registrations finished, nationwide elections will be held, "at which point the coalition's work will be done," Bremer said.

The rest is here.

And this related story seems to reflect noteworthy progress.

Representatives of seven key Iraqi political parties took the first step toward the transition to a democratically elected government yesterday, supporting a plan by U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer 3rd to create a temporary governing council.

The unanimous decision by the diverse groups that had stood in opposition to Saddam Hussein set in motion a process that would lead to the establishment of a government to succeed the long tyranny of the ousted dictator's Ba'ath Party.

The seven factions' participation in the council, which is expected to give the body greater credibility with Iraqis, had been in doubt. Until recently, there had been a "serious possibility" that some groups would boycott the council, said Zaab Sethma of the exile Iraqi National Congress, who attended the gathering in this northern mountain resort.

Let's just hope the Iraqis notice.

UPDATE: Read this story to see how the Iraqi political parties want to help get US soldiers out of the crosshairs of the miscreants.

Warning that increasing violence is rallying the remnants of Saddam Hussein's government, the main Iraqi political groups that supported the United States and Britain in toppling him said on Monday that they would join the first postwar interim government later this month and press for greater powers under the occupation authority.

The decision by the main Iraqi political groups to join an interim government marks the final stage of a two-month exercise in brinkmanship between former Iraqi opposition leaders and L. Paul Bremer, the American occupation administrator in Iraq, over how much power and authority the Iraqi leadership would be given.

Several prominent members of the former opposition forces, including Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, and Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, said they were urging U.S. military commanders in Iraq to allow the creation of an Iraqi national security force to help thwart attacks on allied forces that are destabilizing the country.

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