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Iraq National Assembly Meets For First Time

Baghdad, 16 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iraq's National Assembly met today in Baghdad for the first time since its 275 deputies were elected more than six weeks ago.

The assembly is charged with drafting a permanent constitution that will go before a national referendum in October, followed by another round of elections.

The assembly must also agree on a president and two vice presidents who will then appoint a prime minister. But the Shi'ite-led alliance, which won a slim majority at the 30 January polls, and the Kurdish alliance which came in second have yet to agree on how to share leadership posts.

Shortly before the session began, explosions apparently from mortars were heard near the heavily-fortified Green Zone where the assembly is meeting. Earlier today in Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded killing at least two Iraqi National Guard soldiers.

(Radio Free Iraq/International agencies)