Iraqi Council Seeks U.N. Stamp on Timetable

Echoing the wishes of the United States, Iraq's Governing Council (searchis seeking a U.N. draft resolution that would put power in the hands of Iraqis in June and give them an elected government by the end of 2005.

Governing Council's chairman Jalal Talabani (searchmade the request for U.N. recognition of a timetable for Iraqi self-rule in a letter which arrived Monday at the Security Council.

Security Council (searchmembers have already started discussing a possible new resolution to reflect the Nov. 15 agreement between the U.S.-led Coalition and the Governing Council on an accelerated timetable to restore Iraqi self-government.

But many Security Council members were waiting for Iraq's Governing Council's official response before moving ahead.

Talabani's request reflected what the United States has requested. It said the first step will be the drafting of "a fundamental law to administer the Iraqi state" by the end of February.

France, Russia and Germany have already made clear they want a new resolution to be more than an endorsement of the timetable, which diplomats said was what the United States and Britain envisioned. They also want it to refer to the new political process which they say must include all Iraqis opposed to violence, all neighboring countries, and the United Nations at every stage.

Referring to the proposed Iraqi law, Talabani said it will respect human rights and basic freedoms "including the freedom of religion, religious practices and equality among all citizens," he said.

Talibani said it will create a "democratic federal system that respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people while ensuring the rights of religions and sects." The law will also introduce "a degree of decentralization" in administering the country, he said.

The principle of civilian control over the Iraqi armed forces and security forces will also be established, Talibani said.

Under the law, he said, a provisional legislative body "that will guarantee a wide representation of all segments of Iraqi society" will be selected by the end of May. This legislative body will elect a provisional Iraqi government no later than the end of June.

Once a provisional government is elected, "the Coalition Provisional Authority will be dissolved and the (U.S.-British) occupation ... will end and the role of the Governing Council will end," Talabani said.

The transitional government would organize elections by March 15, 2005 for a constitutional convention, he said. This would include conducting a census, adopting election regulations, a register of voters and regulations for political parties, the press and meetings.

The convention would draft a constitution that would be ratified in a referendum and a new Iraqi government would be elected by Dec. 31, 2005, Talabani said.

On Nov. 10, Talabani sent a letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan that said that the active participation of the U.N. in Iraq in the political process "is essential to the success that we all seek."

In his reply, which was also circulated Monday, Annan "noted with interest the views of the Governing Council" and said he would take them under consideration.