New Iraq cabinet prioritises security

Iraq's new interim government has completed its first day at work to the backdrop of continued violence.

    The government says it will steer Iraq to free elections

    At the government's historic first meeting on Wednesday, the newly

     appointed prime minister, Iyad

    Allawi, flagged security as the "number one priority".

    He spoke on the same day as a Baghdad 

    blast struck the mainly Sunni Muslim area of Adhamiyah, killing at

    least four and wounding 34 others, according to a medical official.

    Women were seen screaming and wailing at the hospital as

    ambulances ferried the wounded to the emergency department. Police

    said at least five children were among the injured.

    Violence unabated

    In what later appeared to be a botched car bombing in the nearby

    Harthiyah neighbourhood, one person was killed and another wounded

    when the vehicle exploded, police officer Salah Hasan said.

    The force of the explosion scattered body parts up to 30 metres

    from the wreckage.

    "A complete national reconciliation is essential for building a

    new Iraq.

    This means rearranging the social fabric and restoring its

    balance away from score-settling and through direct, free and honest

    elections"

    Ghazi al-Yawir,
    Iraqi interim president

    The blasts came as a two-month-old conflict between the militia

    of Muqtada al-Sadr and US forces raged on in Iraq's

    Shia heartland.

    Six Iraqis were killed in Kufa, one in its twin city of Najaf,

    and two in the Baghdad Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, medical

    sources and officials from al-Sadr's office said.

    The latest wave of deadly violence marked the collapse of an

    attempt to impose a 72-hour truce announced on Tuesday by the Najaf

    governor.

    Security will be the main challenge of the new Iraqi Cabinet, which is re

    sponsible for paving the way to free elections next year

    .

    Reconciliation

    Allawi, a former Baath dissident who had close ties with

    the US Central Intelligence Agency, was

    chosen partly for his security credentials.

    "Yesterday and today, there have been terrorist attacks and, as

    Iraqis, we want to work with the multinational force and with friends

    and our brothers in the region to defeat these continued threats,"

    he said at the cabinet meeting.

    For his part, freshly appointed president Ghazi al-Yawir said he

    wanted to lay the foundations for a new Iraq based on reconciliation,

    in a newspaper interview to be published on Thursday

    .

    "A complete national reconciliation is essential for building a

    new Iraq," al-Yawir told Al-Mada.

    "This means rearranging the social fabric and restoring its

    balance away from score-settling and through direct, free and honest

    elections."

    Security Council scene

    A new draft of a UN resolution due to spell out the level of

    sovereignty which the Iraqi government will enjoy, has been put together by the

    United States and Britain.

    The conflict in the Shia heartland
    shows no signs of ending

    If passed, the resolution would give the Iraqi government

    control over the army and the police.

    It also offers a rough date for the departure of occupation troops

    , saying the occupation's mandate would expire "upon

    completion of the political process" to create a constitutionally

    elected Iraqi government.

    The country's first free elections are due in January 2005 but a

    constitution could be adopted as late as 2006.

    But Allawi left little doubt at the cabinet meeting that the

    force, even under the UN flag, would still be under firm US

    control.

    SOURCE: AFP


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