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Iraq Unikely To Meet Deadline For Temporary Law

Baghdad, 28 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council is due to meet today in an effort to meet a midnight deadline for drafting a temporary law to govern the country until the adoption of a new constitution.

It remains unclear if all 25 members will attend the talks in Baghdad, after a council member said eight of 13 Shi'ite council members walked out of yesterday's meeting due to a decision not to make Islamic law the basis for issues like divorce and inheritance.

Council member Mahmud Uthman, a Kurdish representative, today said the walkout occurred after 15 council members voted to repeal a proposal to scrap Iraq's 1959 Family Affairs Code -- considered progressive in the Middle East -- and place it under Muslim religious jurisdiction.

U.S. officials have expressed doubt that the Governing Council will be able to meet the deadline for the law, which is aimed at helping prepare for the 30 June handover of power to Iraqis by the U.S.-led coalition.

Uthman suggested several more days may be necessary to draft the law.