US wants Iraqi constitution in six months

The United States has said it is prepared to set a six-month deadline for an Iraqi constitution that would lead to elections and a new government next year.

    Powell says power will only be transferred to Iraqis after polls

    The constitution would be written by the US-appointed governing council which critics accuse of being unrepresentative American lackeys.

    Secretary of State Colin Powell told The New York Times on Friday: 

    "We would like to put a deadline on them - t

    hey've got six months. It'll be a

    difficult deadline to meet, but we've got to get them going."

    He also raised the possibility that Iraqis themselves could set a

    timetable in the near future, adding that he has

    asked Iraqi leaders to estimate how long it would take to write

    a constitution and conduct elections.

    "Now, if they take forever to give us the answer to that

    question, then we've got a problem," Powell said. "But I think

    they'll give us an answer fairly quickly."

    UN resolution

    Powell's comments come as the US is attempting to force through

    a new UN

    resolution to muster international help

    to stabilise post-war Iraq.

    They also come as the UN's annual General Assembly is

    under way amid widespread doubts about the world body's future role

    in Iraq.

    The administration of US President George Bush is at

    loggerheads with France, Germany and Russia - who opposed the

    Iraqi war - over a timeline for

    the transfer of Iraqi sovereignty.

    Powell said the constitution drafted by Iraqi leaders would

    spell out whether Iraq should be governed by a presidential or

    parliamentary system, and clear the way for elections and the

    installation of a new government in 2004.

    Not until then, Powell stressed, would the United States

    transfer authority from the US-led occupation to Iraq itself.

    SOURCE: AFP


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