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Originally Published: 7/5/2006


By The Issue Wonk


Let’s talk about the leadership in Iraq.  Who’s in charge?  Who was elected?  When will they finally have a working government so that our people can stop dying for their “freedom?”


Coalition Provisional Authority


This was the authority in Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion.  L. Paul Bremer III was named Presidential Envoy to Iraq on May 6, 2003.  Subsequently, in June of that year, President George W. Bush appointed him as Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority.”1  He reported only to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and exercised authority over Iraq’s civil administration.  His task was to oversee the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq until the country was deemed to be able to be self-governed.  (For this service he was awarded, on December 14, 2004, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.)  Iyad Allawi, a Shia Muslim and a member of the Iraqi National Accord political party, was a member of the Iraqi Interim Governing Council, which was subordinate to the civil administration.


The Iraqi Interim Government


On June 28, 2004 the Iraqi Interim Government was created as a caretaker government until the Iraqi Transitional Government could be installed.  Iyad Allawi was chosen by the Interim Government Council to be Prime Minister, the head of the government.2  Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer was chose as “president,” a strictly ceremonial head of state.  The Iraqi Interim Government was recognized by the United Nations, the Arab League, and several other countries as being the sovereign government of Iraq, but the U.S. “retained significant de facto power . . . and critics contend that the government existed only at the pleasure of the United States and other coalition countries . . . The coalition did promise that its troops would leave if the new sovereign government requested it, but no such request was made.”3  Since there was no constitution, the new government operated under the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period.




On January 30, 2005 Iraq held its first election for its National Assembly.  Ibrahim al-Jaafari was elected Prime Minister and Jalal Talabani was elected head of the Presidency Council of Iraq.  “The main coalitions that won seats . . . were the Shi’ite-led Islamist United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish-led secular Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan.  Most Sunni Arab Iraqis boycotted this election.”4


Iraqi Transitional Authority


The new Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari took office as Prime Minister of the Iraqi Transitional Authority on April 7, 2005.  al-Jaafari was a member of the Islamic Dawa political party, one of the oldest Shia Islamist movements in Iraq.  He ran with the support of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.  He had served in the “mainly ceremonial role of vice-president in the outgoing U.S.-appointed” Interim Government.5  al-Jaafari served as Prime Minister until May 20, 2006, with Ahmed Chalabi serving as his deputy Prime Minister.  The primary function of the Transitional Authority was to draft an Iraqi Constitution.




The Iraqi Constitution was ratified October 15, 2005 by public referendum.  Under the Constitution, “the first meeting of the Assembly [was to] take place by March 12, 2006, one month after the results of the election [were] certified.  The Assembly must appoint the Assembly Speaker in its first session, and then has 15 days from its first meeting to approve the President, 15 days thereafter to approve the Prime Minister, and 30 days thereafter to approve the Cabinet.  If these deadlines are not met a new election [would] be held.”6




In December, 2005 more elections were held to elect a permanent 275-member Iraqi National Assemble.  The elections follows a “list” system, whereby voters chose from a list of parties and coalitions.  230 seats were apportioned among Iraq’s 18 governates based on the number of registered voters in each.  The seats within each governate were allocated to lists through a system of proportional representation.  An additional 45  “compensatory” seats were allocated to those parties whose percentage of the national vote total exceeded the percentage of the 275 seats that were allocated.  Women were required to occupy 25% of the seats.  The system was expected to give more weight to Arab Sunni voters, who make up most of the voters in several provinces, who were underrepresented in the previous election.6


First Assembly Meeting


On March 6, 2006 acting President Talabani convened a meeting of the Assembly for March 12th.  However, bickering among the various parties and players threatened to take down the new government because it got off the ground.  On March 12th U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad met with the leaders of all the Iraqi parties and reached an agreement to set the date of the first meeting to March 16th.  More bickering and delays ensued, but on April 21, 2006 Nouri al-Maliki was named Prime Minister-designate.  He was subsequently appointed the first Prime Minister under the new Constitution on May 20, 2006.6   Negotiations are still going on to set up the new government and amend the Constitution as necessary.




1 Coalition Provisional Authority.  (NOTE:  This Website is no longer being updated since the Coalition Provisional Authority was disbanded.  The site says that it will stay up until June 30, 2006.


2 According to Answers.com, “Allawi is often described as a moderate Shia (a member of Iraq’s majority faith) chosen for his secular background and ties to the United States.  However, his image has been undermined with the media suggesting that Allawi was Washington’s puppet.’”


3 See Iraqi Interim Government.


4 See Iraqi Transitional Government.


5 Asser, Martin,  “Profile:  Ibrahim Jaafari.”  BBC News, April 7, 2005.


6 See First Government of Iraq.



© The Issue Wonk, 2006



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