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BACKGROUND REPORT - April 9, 2003: Future Iraqi Government - 2003-04-08

This is a VOA Special English Background Report.

There are questions and concerns about what kind of government Iraq will have once the fighting ends. One of the main issues is what part the United Nations will play in Iraq after the war. British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants the United Nations to have a major part. President Bush says the U-N should help rebuild the country. But he rejects U-N involvement in forming a new government in Baghdad. The two leaders met in Northern Ireland to discuss their positions.

American officials say the coalition that has given, in their words, "life and blood to liberate Iraq" has earned the right to take a leading role.

What does Kofi Annan think? The secretary-general says the United Nations has much experience with organizing political change in nations after wars. Mister Annan says the U-N should be involved in the effort in Iraq. He has named U-N administrator Rafeeuddin Ahmed as a special adviser to organize the U-N's Iraq policy.

There is suspicion among Arabs about what plans the United States and Britain might have for Iraq in the future. The Arabs are not alone. The leaders of Russia, France and Germany have invited Kofi Annan to join them at a meeting later this week. That meeting is in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. Russia, France and Germany led opposition within the United Nations to a war against Iraq. The fighting began March twentieth.

President Bush and other American officials have said the government in Iraq after the war will be controlled by Iraqis. First, though, plans call for a team led by retired United States Army General Jay Garner to have administrative responsibility. This group is to supervise the re-establishment of an Iraqi government and make sure Iraqis receive humanitarian aid. At the same time, there would be preparations for a temporary Iraqi government to begin its work.

A few days ago, hundreds of Iraqi fighters opposed to Saddam Hussein arrived in southern Iraq to join the war effort. An opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, organized the fighters. That group, based in London, is led by Ahmad Chalabi. He left Iraq more than forty years ago.

Mister Chalabi wants to play a major part in the Iraqi leadership after the war. In Washington, though, he has received more support from the Defense Department than from the State Department or the White House.

President Bush has said that Iraqi exiles can play a part in the new Iraq. But he says local citizens must govern their country.