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IN THE NEWS – New Government in Iraq - 2004-06-06

Broadcast: June 5, 2004

This is Steve Ember with In the News in VOA Special English.

Iraq now has leaders in place to take power temporarily from the coalition administration on June thirtieth.

Special United Nations diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi urged Iraqis this week to support their new temporary government. The government will replace the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. The council dismissed itself on Tuesday so the new government could start work immediately.

The government is to lead Iraq until national elections take place by the end of January. One of its aims is to increase security. The new government will seek a security agreement with the United States.

Iraqi officials, American administrators and Mister Brahimi struggled for weeks over who to include in the new government. The Governing Council members wanted a major part in the process. But the U-N diplomat and American officials wanted to include local, tribal and religious leaders not represented on the council.

Mister Brahimi announced at a ceremony in Baghdad that Ghazi Ajil al-Yawer will be president in the new government. Mister Yawer is a Sunni tribal leader. He served on the Governing Council and had its support. But American officials and Mister Brahimi wanted Adnan Pachachi for president. Mister Pachachi is also a Sunni Muslim. He rejected the offer, however, because he lacked support from the council members.

The presidency will be largely a ceremonial position. There will also be two vice presidents.

The prime minister who will lead the temporary government is Iyad Allawi. He was appointed last week. Mister Allawi is a Shiite politician who served on the Governing Council. His party had been supported in exile by the United States Central Intelligence Agency.

Mister Allawi has criticized the United States because of the security situation in Iraq. But he says his government will not ask the American-led troops to leave during the change of power.

The thirty-two member cabinet has a mix of Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and Assyrians. They represent the many ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. Several cabinet members are women. A one-hundred member assembly will have veto power over the decisions of the cabinet.

The temporary government that takes power at the end of this month is to lead to an elected permanent government in Iraq.

Members of the new government said they would try to influence the wording of a U-N Security Council resolution on terms for the change of power. Mister Yawer and others want to make sure they have full control of Iraqi security forces. They also want greater control over the activities of American troops.

President Bush called the temporary government a major step toward a free Iraq.

In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.