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Powell: U.S. Committed To Hand Power To Iraqis On Time

Washington, 17 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the U.S. remains committed to handing over power to the Iraqi people by 1 July.

Powell said however, that the U.S. remains open to ideas from the UN about how the interim Iraqi government should be chosen. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to make his recommendations later this week.

The plan approved last November by the U.S.'s Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer, and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council calls for choosing an interim government through caucuses to be held in Iraq's 18 provinces.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Sadreddin al-Kubbanji, the head of Iraq's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, warned in the Shi'ite pilgrimage city of Al-Najaf of a possible crisis if Bremer vetoes a possible "Islamic" constitution.

Al-Kubbanji said if Bremer imposed a solution other than what Iraqis want, it could spark a possible crisis. Bremer yesterday said he'd move to block any effort by the Governing Council to put Islamic law at the foundation of an interim Iraqi constitution.