US tiring of Iraq council - report

The Bush administration is losing patience with the self-interest and sluggishness of Iraq's Governing Council and is considering finding an alternative, a paper reported on Sunday.

    Talabani and Bremer queue for the Ramadan evening meal

    US officials think members of the US-appointed IGC, under interim president Jalal Talabani, are too focused on their own interests and moving too slowly to draft a new constitution - a US prerequisite for a power handover - the Washington Post said, citing senior US officials.

    "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," a US official quoted by the paper said.

    The Post said Robert Blackwill, an official on the White House National Security Council overseeing Iraq's political transition, was embarking on an unannounced trip to Iraq this weekend to underscore US concerns.

    Blackwill would discuss possible alternatives with Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq.

    A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, which has so far tried to boost the credibility of the council, refused to comment on the report when contacted by


    The United States is under international pressure to transfer power to Iraqis as soon as possible, as it searches for ways to stabilise the nation and bring its troops home.

    US and French officials said the United States was considering a French proposal, rejected earlier, to create an interim Iraqi leadership similar to the government formed in postwar Afghanistan, according to the paper.

    "The council is trying its best. You have to remember we are 24 personalities. We have never worked together. There is no precedent for what we are doing"

    Muwafaq Rabiyi,
    Iraqi Governing Council member

    Officials quoted by the paper indicated, however, that the United States was still focused on working with the council in an effort to meet a 15 December deadline set by the United Nations for laying out a timetable and programme for drafting a constitution and holding elections.

    "There's no sword yet over their heads," one official told the paper.

    Still, the paper also said US officials were exploring the possibility of creating a provisional authority to govern until a new constitution was written and elections held, which would mark a departure from Washington's position that a new constitution was needed before power would be turned over.

    "If our exit is going to take longer, if it looks like it could go more than two years to get it all done, then there's an incentive to look into a transitional phase and some other governing mechanism," the paper quoted a US State Department official as saying.

    Patience required

    Adil Abd al-Mahdi, a council member from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told the paper that the US would have to be patient. "Figuring out how to write the constitution is the most important thing we will do. We have to make sure we take the time to do this right," he said.

    Another council member said that the council was breaking new ground.

    "The council is trying its best. You have to remember we are 24 personalities," said Muwafaq Rabiyi, a Shia physician and former exile in Britain. "We have never worked together. There is no precedent for what we are doing."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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