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Iraqi Governing Council

Iraqi Governing Council





In late June 2003 the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) halted all local elections in Iraq and self-rule in provincial cities and towns, opting instead to appoint mayors and administrators. Many of those that were appointed were former Iraqi military leaders. Former-CPA head L. Paul Bremer was reported to have said in an interview that there is "no blanket prohibition" on self-rule, adding, "I'm not opposed to it, but I want to do it [in] a way that takes care of our concerns...Elections that are held too early can be destructive. It's got to be done very carefully." Some critics have said that the CPA decision was an attempt to prevent Shi'ite clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr from coming to power. Grand Ayatollah Ali Husayni al-Sistani issued a fatwa or religious ruling on 28 June criticizing the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA) plan to appoint a council that would compose a new Iraqi constitution.

On 13 July 2003, the Iraqi Governing Council was formed. The 25-members were chosen by the U.S. led coalition. The body wasthe most diverse Iraq has ever had, containing members from Iraq's religious and ethnic groups. While the majority of the council members were Shia Muslims, this was a significant change from the Ba'athist regime. While Sunnis are the minority, they have typically led the country.

The priorities of the council were to achieve stability and security, revive the economy and deliver public services.

The Iraqi Council was composed of

  • 13 Shia Muslims
  • 5 Sunni Muslims
  • 5 Kurds
  • 1 Christians
  • 1 Turkmen

Among those on the panel were Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress; Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution; Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, leaders of the two main Kurdish groups; and former Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi.

The Council had the power to direct policy and nominate and dismiss minsters. The Council was also to have played a role in the formation of a new constitution.

The U.S. led coalition had the ultimate veto power, but emphasized that it would only be used in exceptional circumstances.

On 15 November 2003 Jalal Talabani, then President of the Governing Council, and Ambassadors L. Paul Bremer and David Richmond, on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority, concluded an agreement on the timetable and programme for the drafting of a new constitution and holding of elections under that constitution, which the Security Council, in operative paragraph 7 of resolution 1511 (2003), had requested be submitted for its review no later than 15 December, as well as on a course of action to restore full responsibility for governing Iraq to the people of Iraq by 1 July 2004. Though the 15 November agreement makes no specific mention of any role for the United Nations, all of them, particularly Mr. Talabani, expressed their desire for the United Nations to play an active part in its implementation.

The 15 November 2003 agreement stipulated that, through a Coalition Provisional Authority-supervised process of caucuses held in the 18 governorates of Iraq, a transitional national assembly would be established by 31 May 2004; that assembly would then elect an executive branch and appoint ministers. By 30 June 2004, the new transitional administration - whose scope and structures are to be set out in a "fundamental law" to be approved by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council by 28 February 2004 - would assume from the Coalition Provisional Authority full responsibility for governing Iraq. The Authority and the Governing Council would be dissolved at that time. The agreement also set forth a specific timetable for the constitutional process to be codified in the fundamental law, with elections for a constitutional conference to be held by 15 March 2005 and a popular referendum to be held to ratify the constitution. Elections for a new Government under that constitution would be held by 31 December 2005, at which point the fundamental law would expire. On the security issue, the 15 November document called for a security agreement to be signed by the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Governing Council no later than the end of March 2004, mainly to cover the status of the Coalition forces in Iraq.

On 30 December 2003, the Governing Council requested that the Secretary-General dispatch a United Nations team to Iraq to assess the feasibility of direct elections within the June 30 timeframe and, if not, what alternatives could be recommended.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said 19 February 2004 that direct elections cannot be held in Iraq before the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) transfers sovereignty to Iraqis June 30. "The major consensus or understanding (is) that elections cannot be held before the end of June, that the June 30 date for handover for sovereignty must be respected and that we need to find a mechanism to create a caretaker government and then help prepare the elections later," the secretary general told journalists.

On 08 March 2004 the Iraqi Governing Council signed an interim constitution in Baghdad. This law provides a framework for continued cooperation among Iraq, members of the international Coalition. The new "Transitional Administrative Law" will serve as Iraq's constitution between 30 June 2004, when the Coalition Provisional Authority returns sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and completion of a permanent constitution by a directly elected parliament. The council had originally scheduled the signing ceremony for March 3, but postponed it out of respect for the mourning period for Iraqis lost in the March 2 terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Karbala. The signing, rescheduled for March 5, was delayed yet again after a few members of the council expressed concerns about one specific provision in the document. The law contains a provision allowing US commanders to retain control of all international and Iraqi forces for a period to be determined.

By 10 April 2004 the violence in Iraq caused a rift between Washington and the Iraqi Governing Council. At least one member of the council suspended his participation in the US-appointed body. Shi'a member Abd-al Karim al-Mahmadawi said after meeting with radical Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr that he would boycott the council until "bleeding in all Iraq" ends. A Sunni member of the council, Ghazi al-Yawir, threatened to resign from the body unless the coalition peacefully resolved the crisis in Al-Fallujah. Other Governing Council members threatened to suspend participation or tender their resignation.

The United States-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) transferred power to an Iraqi government on 30 June 2004 and the current 25-member Governing Council was dissolved. Some of the Governing Council members have assumed other responsibilities while other members have been called upon to participate in various State institutions. The transitional government would be "led by a Prime Minister and comprising Iraqi men and women known for their honesty, integrity and competence, and that there would also be a President to act as Head of State and two Vice-Presidents." A large national conference will be held to promote national reconciliation and consensus. Such a gathering could be held in July 2004 and aim to elect a consultative assembly to serve alongside the caretaker government until the January 2005 elections.

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser, briefed a UN Security Council meeting on 27 April 2004 on the results of his work in Iraq, presenting his evaluations of the development of the situation and his vision of how the political process should go in that country. In particular, he underscored the importance of forming a caretaker Iraqi government as soon as possible, to which the coalition would hand over sovereignty by June 30, 2004, and of holding a national convention whose principal task would be to help the nation come together, to hold general elections and prepare a permanent constitution of Iraq. Brahimi noted that the UN's work in the country to help in carrying out these tasks was greatly impeded by the lack of security and by the increasingly sharp confrontation between the coalition and insurgents.

Council Leadership

On 30 July 2003, the Governing Council chose its first president. Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shi'ite politicial and spokesman of the Da'wa party. The presidential position rotated between nine of its members. Each presidential term lasted a month.

Jaafari stated, "The principle of monthly rotating presidency was adopted to give a chance to the nine members...It will end, God willing, as soon as possible when the occupation ends and Iraq achieves political independence."

    Other council members who have been chosen to be president of the Iraqi Governing council
  • Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)
  • Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani
  • Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani
  • Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord
  • Muhsin Abdul Hameed of the Iraqi Islamic Party
  • Shi'ite scholar Muhammed Bahr al-Uloum
  • Former Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi

Iraqi Governing Council Members

The Iraqi Governing Council was inaugurated in Baghdad on 13 July 2003, marking Iraq's first step toward the formation of a democratic government. The following is a list of the council's members and their affiliations:


Iyad Allawi: head of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). Also a medical doctor and long-time oppositionist. Allawi only relinquished his position on the council's security committee following the appointments of al-Rubay'i and al-Sumaydi'i. Dubai's Al-Arabiyah television reported on 9 April 2004 that Allawi resigned from the committee in protest against the coalition's failure to give the committee any responsibility to deal with the unfolding crises in Iraq.

Ahmad al-Barak: serves as general coordinator for the Human Rights Association of Babil, and as coordinator for the Iraqi Bar Association. He has worked on UN programs in Iraq at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry since 1991.

Ahmad Chalabi: former exile and head of the London-based Iraqi National Congress (INC), an umbrella group for the opposition. He was convicted in absentia of fraud in a banking scandal in Jordan in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim: Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Abd al-Aziz is the brother of SCIRI head Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. He returned to Iraq after the fall of the Hussein regime following 20 years of exile. SCIRI opposes the U.S.-led administration in Iraq.

Aqilah al-Hashimi: Ms. al-Hashimi was one of three women on the 25-member governing council. She had previously served as an Iraqi diplomat when Saddam Hussein was in power. She was a former member of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry with experience working on UN programs. She led the Iraqi delegation to the UN donor conference in New York. She held a Ph.D. in modern literature and a bachelor's degree in law. On 20 September 2003 she was shot and seriously wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in Baghdad. Ms. al-Hashimi's car came under attack, as she was being driven from her home in western Baghdad early Saturday morning. Several gunmen were in two vehicles, and fired automatic rifles at Ms. al-Hashimi's car and a vehicle carrying her bodyguards. Ms. al-Hashimi was rushed to Baghdad's al-Yarmouk hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Doctors said her most serious injury was a bullet wound to the abdomen, and she was in serious condition. Three of her bodyguards also were wounded, one of them critically. Ms. al-Hashimi was later transferred to a US Army medical facility in Baghdad in a convoy protected by American troops. She died of her wounds on 25 September 2003. She underwent two operations, but doctors could not stop the internal bleeding. No group claimed responsibility, and there were no arrests. But Interior Ministry officials suspect the gunmen were loyalists to the deposed Saddam Hussein regime. She had been preparing to travel to New York as part of the Iraqi delegation to this month's meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but at least one suspect is reportedly in custody. Some Iraqis have condemned people who collaborate with the U-S-led administration in Iraq, and there have been attacks on policemen, interpreters and others who work with the Americans.

Ibrahim al-Ja'fari: spokesman for the Islamic Da'wah Party from Karbala and also a medical doctor. His party fought the Hussein regime from Iran until 1982. Al-Da'wah claims to have lost 77,000 members to war with the regime.

Raja Habib al-Khaza'i: head of a maternity hospital in Al-Diwaniyah. Studied and lived in Britain from the late 1960s until she returned to Iraq in 1977.

Wa'il Abd al-Latif: served as head judge in Al-Nasiriyah courts. Named governor of Al-Basrah on 4 July.

Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad: head of Al-Da'wah party in al-Basrah; editor of several newspapers and magazines. On 17 May 2004 Abd al-Zahra Uthman Muhammad, also known as Izz al-Din Salim, and a number of other Iraqis were killed in car bomb attack as their convoy waited to enter the headquarters of the US-led coalition in Baghdad -- known as the "Green Zone." At the time he had been active in efforts to mediate an end to a military standoff in the south of the country between the US-led coalition and armed supporters of radical Shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Abd-al Karim al-Mahmadawi: known as "Prince of the Marshes" for leading a resistance movement against Hussein from the southern Iraqi marshes; imprisoned by the Hussein regime for six years. Now heads a small Islamist party in the southern Iraqi town of Amarah.

Hamid Majid Musa: secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party; also an economist and petroleum researcher. Left Iraq in 1978 and reportedly returned in 1983.

Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i: former Iraqi exile and human rights activist, medical doctor, and author. Bremer announced 09 April 2004 that he appointed Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i, a Shi'a member of the Governing Council, as Iraq's national security adviser. Al-Rubay'i subsequently resigned from his seat on the Iraqi Governing Council. Al-Rubay'i resigned due to his new position, contradicting reports that his resignation was related to the coalition's handling of the current crises in Al-Fallujah and Al-Najaf.

Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum: Shi'ite cleric. Returned from exile in London after the fall of the Hussein regime. In London, he headed the Ahl al-Bayt Charitable Center. The Iraqi opposition elected Bahr al-Ulum as the Shi'ite member of a leadership triumvirate after the 1991 Gulf War.

Salamah al-Khafaji, who replaced slain council member Aqilah al-Hashimi, had also threatened to resign from the council, but she continued to attend meetings.


Nasir Kamil Chadirchi: head of the National Democratic Party and a Baghdad-based lawyer and businessman. He is the son of Kamil al-Chadirchi, who played a leading role in Iraq's democratic development until the Ba'ath Party came to power in 1968.

Muhsin Abd al-Hamid: secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party and author of some 30 books on the Qur'an.

Samir Shakir Mahmud: writer and businessman from Hadithah; oppositionist and member of the Al-Sumaydah tribe. On 09 April 2004, following consultation with the Iraqi Governing Council, Ambassador Bremer named Mr. Samir Shakir Mahmoud el-Sumaidy the new minister of Interior.

Adnan Pachachi: former Iraqi foreign minister and head of the Iraqi Independent Democrats Movement; returned to Iraq after the fall of the Hussein regime.

Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir: civil engineer, born in Mosul, and had been living in Saudi Arabia where he served as vice president of Hicap Technology Company.


Mas'ud Barzani: A Sunni Kurd, he is the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) founded in 1946 by his father Mustafa Barzani. Three of his brothers were reportedly disappeared in 1983 when the Hussein regime rounded up some 8,000 members of the Barzani clan.

Salah al-Din Muhammad Baha al-Din: head of the Kurdistan Islamic Movement. A Sunni Kurd from Halabja, he has written several books in Kurdish and Arabic.

Dara Nur al-Din: former judge on the Iraqi Court of Appeals. Jailed for eight months in 2002 by Hussein after declaring a Hussein edict on land confiscation without compensation was unconstitutional; released in general amnesty in October.

Jalal Talabani: head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He is a Sunni Kurd from Kirkuk. A one-time member of the KDP, he broke with the organization and founded the PUK in 1957.

Mahmud Uthman: independent politician.


Yonadam Yousif Kanna: head of the Assyrian Democratic Movement. He is a former minister of public works and housing and a former minister of industry and energy in Iraqi Kurdistan. Has opposed the Hussein regime since 1979.


Sungul Chabuk: head of Kirkuk-based Women's Organization. Also an engineer and teacher.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:48:49 ZULU