The sudden trip yesterday of Iraq's civil administrator, L. Paul Bremer, to the United States underscores concerns in Washington that the transition of power in Iraq needs to move more rapidly. Bremer is meeting with U.S. foreign policy advisers to discuss ways to accelerate the troubled process. In Baghdad, an influential member of the Iraqi Governing Council is suggesting one way to ease the transition to Iraqi sovereignty. Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister and Sunni elder statesman, says an Iraqi provisional government should be established as soon as possible. RFE/RL correspondent Valentinas Mite spoke to Pachachi in Baghdad yesterday and files this report.
Baghdad, 12 November 2003 (RFE/RL) � Adnan Pachachi says the rapid establishment of an Iraqi provisional government would be a key step toward easing the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) out and moving sovereign Iraqi rule in.
Pachachi, one of the most influential members of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (ICG), spoke to RFE/RL yesterday as CPA head L. Paul Bremer arrived in Washington for urgent talks on resolving the problem of security and governance in the chaotic post-Hussein nation.
The U.S. administration has grown increasingly concerned about securing a transition strategy with the approach of a 15 December deadline set by the United Nations for the ICG to name a panel to draft Iraq's new constitution.
But Washington is also seeking a ruling body that -- unlike the ICG -- will be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and not an instrument of the U.S. government.
Pachachi says a provisional Iraqi government would establish the solid foundation needed before moving forward with work on a constitution and popular elections: "The idea, which seems to be gaining ground, is that we should have a provisional government within a clear legal frame. If you have to have a proper constitution, you need many, many things. You need first of all a population census; you need an accurate and detailed one."
Pachachi, who served as Iraq's foreign minister from 1965 to 1967, says many challenges must be met before Iraq can achieve full sovereignty. An election law should be adopted, a voting system established, the judiciary reformed, and a draft constitution submitted for a referendum.
But Iraqis, he says, are growing impatient under CPA rule -- something a provisional Iraqi government could solve.
The Sunni statesman adds that the UN Security Council resolution passed last month sets the conditions needed for such a government. Resolution 1551 says the CPA will cede authority "when an internationally recognized, representative government established by the people of Iraq is sworn in," Pachachi said.
"It will mark the end for the CPA," he added. "Once there is a representative Iraqi government, provisional or not, and internationally recognized, that's the end for the CPA because it is said very clearly in the council [resolution] that when this happens, the CPA has to transfer all its power to the Iraqi government."
Such a government, Pachachi stresses, does not have to be elected in a popular vote. Its members can be appointed by the ICG, which could then expand in size and act as a legislative body in tandem with the provisional executive.
Asked whether the Governing Council has the authority to appoint a provisional government, Pachachi turns again to Resolution 1551, which states that the ICG is the principal body of the Iraqi interim administration and "embodies the sovereignty of the State of Iraq during the transitional period."
Still, it is the approval of the United States, and not the UN, that Pachachi's proposal will need before it can move ahead. The ICG member says the idea has been under discussion with CPA officials, but that a clear "yes" or "no" has yet to be heard: "We have been discussing this with them for some time now. It's nothing new, you know. And we hope that perhaps finally we may have persuaded them. I don't know. We'll see, we'll keep on trying."
The fate of the 25-member ICG itself is uncertain. Western media have reported the U.S. administration is deeply frustrated with the Governing Council and is contemplating an alternative. A recent article in "The Washington Post" (9 November) cites a U.S. official as saying ICG members have dawdled on issues of key importance, like the selection of a constitutional committee.
But Pachachi said the ICG will meet the 15 December deadline for presenting a constitution timetable to the UN. He says he is also unaware of any U.S. complaints regarding the council's work and that, if anything, the body's ministers are more troubled than the Americans by the slow pace.
"People are quick to forget that the council was only formed in July," Pachachi says. "The ministers were appointed only in the middle of September.... There was nothing we could do [until that time]."