Friday, January 30, 2004

The attacks and the bombings, together with rampant crime, have left Baghdadis living in fear. Through all this, however, there are signs of hope. Many Iraqis are looking to the future and seeking to play a role in rebuilding their country.

At the Palestine Hotel, more than 100 Iraqis took part Wednesday in a three-hour, coalition-sponsored debate on their country's future.

Under tight security, they let two members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council, including current president and Sunni politician Adnan Pachachi, know what they expected...

Pachachi, who met President Bush in Washington last week, said an interim constitution will ensure women get at least 25 percent of the 250 seats proposed for the transitional legislature. There was a near consensus that Iraq will have a three-man presidency to rule until a government is elected by the end of 2005, he added.

Isra'a Abdel-Razeq, a 27-year-old mother of three, was upbeat.

''The most important thing is that we are free,'' she said. ''The fact that I am here now is a first step,'' said Abdel-Razeq, a Sunni civil engineer married to a Shiite.

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