2 December 2003

Council In Iraq Resisting Ayatollah

U.S. officials have opposed keeping the council around after a provisional government is formed because of concern that the two bodies might squabble and that the entire process could lose legitimacy if an American-appointed council continued to hold power. But several council members, particularly those who do not lead large political parties, are concerned about their ability to be selected through the caucuses.

Some of them now want Bremer to guarantee members a role in the provisional government in exchange for their support of the caucuses.

Several members also want the council to play a greater role in selecting people for the caucuses. Under the Nov. 15 plan, the Governing Council would appoint only five of the 15 members on each of the 18 caucus organizing committees. The 10 others would be drawn from provincial and city councils.

But Governing Council members contend the provincial and local councils, several of which were formed by military commanders with minimal popular consultation, are not sufficiently representative and are rife with loyalists of former president Saddam Hussein. As a consequence, many members want either the Governing Council to have a greater role in the selection process or the local councils to be dissolved and assembled from scratch.

Council leaders say they believe revamping the local councils or diminishing their role could affect Sistani's position. 'He is concerned about the local councils,' said a Shiite politician who recently met with Sistani. 'If we could reform them, maybe even by holding some local elections, it might satisfy him.'

Elections mean elections. Making the IGC some kind of upper house for life because the IGC and the CPA are both frightened of open elections is an extremely silly plan. Admitting that the policy is driven by the US electoral cycle doesn't do anything for the credibility of either the CPA or the council.

The technical problems can be overcome. After 10 years of the most brutal civil war Sierra Leonemanaged to register and then poll its electorate between February and May 2002. In Timor Leste the same process took only 2 years although during that time the country experienced widespread massacre and the total destruction of its infrastructure before the UN takeover.

The technical problems could be cured. Its' the election outcome that both the occupation and the IGC fear.

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