Interim Governing Council Rethinks its Shape
It seems increasingly likely that the national elections in Iraq scheduled for May 2004 will be pushed to December, but that the delay will not affect the handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government by the US. The US will surrender sovereignty to an expanded Interim Governing Council, which will preside over the subsequent elections. az-Zaman and ash-Sharq al-Awsat both report that this prospect has spurred extensive rethinking. The Assyrian and Chaldean Christians have long been dissatisfied with their level of representation on the IGC, and they are pressing for more of a role in any expanded body. Some are suggesting that Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite leader who has the sympathy of between a fourth and a third of Iraqi Shiites, be given a seat. The expanded IGC may also appoint a prime minister to represent it as executive, and to make tough decisions that so far the collective body has avoided. The IGC appointed ministers to head the major ministries last summer, but never appointed a prime minister.
In ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Shiite IGC member Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said that Iraqis are agreed on three principles. 1) The sole solution to restoring the structure of Iraqi governance is (open, direct) elections; and they told Brahimi as much. 2) Sovereignty must be transferred to the Iraqis on schedule at the end of June and the occupation must end, since it cannot last longer than that. 3) A law must be issued regarding the administration of the Iraqi state that guarantees the construction of a modern, contemporary, civilized nation. The NYT reports that Rubaie has actually called for a smaller IGC to guide the transition to an elected government.