Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Iraq names interim government

HANDOVER After days of confrontation, Iraqi leaders appointed tribal chief Ghazi Yawar as president after Washington's choice declined to take the job


A US soldier, center, pushes an injured Iraqi man away after a car bomb explosion in central Baghdad yesterday outside the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, near the Green Zone headquarters of the US-run coalition.


The Iraqi Governing Council was dissolved yesterday after the appointment of a new interim government that will take over at the end of this month, a member of the outgoing body said.

"The Governing Council dissolved itself today. It no longer exists," said Mahmoud Othman, who has been appointed a minister of state in the new line-up.

Iraqi leaders got their way over US opposition yesterday to have tribal chief Ghazi Yawar appointed president after Washington's choice stepped aside in a face-saving arrangement between occupiers and occupied.

As they met, a massive explosion nearby at the offices of a Kurdish political party just outside the US Green Zone headquarters killed 25 people, police at the scene said.

It was not clear what caused the blast. Widespread violence poses the greatest challenge to the interim government's efforts to organize Iraq's first free elections next year.

After two days of bitter confrontation over the largely ceremonial post, Iraqi Governing Council members said Washington's preferred presidential candidate, elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, had turned down the post minutes after being offered it by the UN in defiance of the Council.

A further test of strength between Washington and the US-appointed Governing Council lies ahead with the imminent announcement of 26 ministers to serve in an interim Cabinet until elections are held next year.

"Pachachi was named, then he turned it down and Yawar was named to the position instead. That's it, and everyone is happy," Council member Rajaa Habib Khuzai said.

UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the man charged by Washington with naming an interim government, and Pachachi, an 81-year-old former foreign minister, were among those to congratulate Yawar, a civil engineer with ties to Saudi Arabia.

"Dr. Adnan Pachachi, who enjoys wide respect and support in Iraq, was offered the presidential position with the support of Sheikh Ghazi, but declined for personal reasons," Brahimi said in a statement confirming Yawar's appointment.

Pachachi told a news conference he had had the support of the majority of the Iraqi people but withdrew because he was opposed by "certain parties."

Reflecting the balance among Iraq's ethnic and religious groups, two vice presidents -- one Shiite Muslim, the other a Kurd -- were appointed to serve under the Sunni Muslim president. Prime Minister-designate Iyad Allawi, appointed on Friday, is from the long-oppressed Shiite majority.

Paul Bremer, the head of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority, and Brahimi were also set to announce the names of a Cabinet line-up for the interim government that will take over from the occupation administration on June 30.

The Governing Council has broadly agreed on a list of key Cabinet appointees among themselves but aides to Council members said it now appeared that Brahimi and the US officials might disregard that and appoint a different line-up.

Brahimi was brought in by the US to mediate between Washington and Iraq's various ethnic, religious and political groups. But the Governing Council had sought to push its own candidates on the UN envoy.

The 22-member body, appointed by US officials a year ago, has little clear support among ordinary Iraqis. But its members say they are the legitimate voice of the people following the US invasion that ended Saddam's dictatorship 14 months ago.

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