The first session of Baghdad’s city council was overshadowed by more Iraqi and US deaths on Monday, as retiring US General Tommy Franks said there was no need for extra troops in the war-torn country despite almost daily resistance attacks.
Two US soldiers and two Iraqis killed in separate attacks in the country.
US soldiers shot dead two Iraqi civilians in separate incidents, one in Baghdad and another in Ramadi, west of the capital.
Four US soldiers were also injured in Ramadi when their patrol came under a rocket attack.
A roadside bomb left a US soldier dead in the capital. Another soldier died in clashes overnight in a Baghdad neighbourhood.
The council in Baghdad is solely an advisory body with no budget or spending authority whose role is to counsel the US occupying administration.
US administrator for Paul Bremer
is under pressure from Iraqis who
want to run their country
The US administration screened council members for ties to ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and nullified the election of “four or five” suspected Baathists, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Joe Rice, a council advisor.
Rice, a former councilman in Colorado, said the 37-member body will act as a test for future leaders of Iraq.
The council includes six women, three Kurds, 62 percent Shia majority and is led by a Christian chairman.
In the southern city of Najaf, a 22-member advisory body, which includes one woman, also took its seats.
However, the formation of an Iraqi national government is still at least one year away, according to occupation officials.
Meanwhile, representatives of seven Iraqi parties who opposed Hussein welcomed the formation of an interim governing council for the country.
In a statement, the parties called for the council to have “powers to define and implement policies in different areas, including the nomination of ministers and supervision of the work of the cabinet”.
According to United Nations Special Envoy Sergio Vieira De Mello, US administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer will announce in the next two weeks a “transitional governing council” with executive powers.
- A freelance Australian cameraman working for the American network NBC died on Monday of wounds sustained in a grenade attack in Fallujah. Jeremy Little, 27, was wounded a week ago while embedded with US troops.
- In Washington, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said an audiotape of Saddam Hussein aired last week on Aljazeera sounded authentic. In the recording, Hussein said he is still in Iraq and warned of more resistance attacks.
- Despite almost daily resistance attacks against occupation forces, retiring US General Tommy Franks said no extra troops were needed in Iraq. In an interview with ABC network marking the last day in uniform, Franks said rising casualties among occupation soldiers were for a “worthy cause”. <