Iraqi Council Votes to Send Delegation to U.N.

The new governing council -- a U.S.-sanctioned first step toward democracy in postwar Iraq -- voted Monday to send a delegation to the U.N. Security Council (search).

Meanwhile, thousands of people -- including Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- attended a ceremony in honor of the possible successor to the long-deposed Iraqi throne, Sharif Ali bin Hussein (search), who greeted well-wishers at his palatial headquarters.

The occasion was Revolution Day (search), the 45th anniversary of a bloody coup in 1958 when nationalists killed King Faisal II (search), Iraq's last monarch, provoking years of political unrest. The day had been celebrated under Saddam Hussein, but Monday was the first time monarchists in Baghdad were able to gather to mourn the king's assassination.

In west Baghdad, one American soldier was killed and six wounded in the attack by insurgents who fired several rocket-propelled grenades at the military convoy early Monday, said Spc. Giovanni Llorente, a military spokesman. Also Monday, the military said a marine in southern Iraq died in a non-hostile incident.

The death brought to 32 the number of American soldiers killed in hostile action since President Bush declared an end to major fighting on May 1.

Later Monday, an explosion destroyed an empty car in a parking lot used primarily by journalists to cover events at the Baghdad Convention Center, near where the council had met earlier in the day and the site of most press conferences given by coalition officials. The car, a black four-wheel drive vehicle belonging to Tunisian embassy officials, was not occupied at the time, and there were no injuries, witnesses said. Security was tight after the blast.

"I think it was a bomb," said Iraqi policeman Qasim Mohammed. "The explosion was very loud, and had it been a grenade, it wouldn't have been that powerful."

Mohammed said he believed the explosive device was thrown under the car shortly before it exploded.

The parking lot is about a quarter-mile from the site of the council meeting, which is in the same compound as the convention center.

The violence followed an apparent failed car-bombing Sunday night on a police station full of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police, local police said.

A white Volkswagen was destroyed and a badly mangled and headless body lay nearby, said police Sgt. Adel Shakir. He said the body was thought to have been one of two men who were attempting to get the explosive-packed car near the station.

The new governing council, which was announced to the world on Sunday, will have real political muscle with the power to name ministers and approve the 2004 budget. But final control of Iraq still rests with L. Paul Bremer (search) -- the U.S. administrator of Iraq and a major architect of the council.

At the close of its first full day of business, the council voted to send a delegation to the U.N. Security Council that would "assert and emphasize the role of the governing council as a legitimate Iraqi body during this transitional period."

The council -- which brings together Iraq's diverse mosaic of Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and ethnic Turks -- also formed three committees to outline an order of business for the coming weeks and work out organizational issues, said Hoshyar Zebari, a spokesman for the council.

The council had planned to select a leader during Monday's session, but Zebari said that would be done later.

In a deeply symbolic first public action during its inaugural session Sunday, the governing council set April 9 -- the day Baghdad fell to U.S. forces -- as a national holiday and banned celebrations of six dates important to Saddam and his Baath Party.

The act was announced, significantly, by a prominent Shiite cleric. Shiites, long oppressed by Saddam, now dominate the 25-member council.

"The establishment of this council represents the Iraqi national will after the collapse of the dictatorial regime," said the cleric, Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum from the holy southern city of Najaf.

As the new members were introduced to the world at the Baghdad Convention Center, Bremer stood and applauded from the front row. But he made no comment, a move designed to lower the American profile.

Council member Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister, said he does not expect Bremer to veto council decisions and believed negotiations would settle all disputes.

Still to be seen is whether the council can convince the Iraqi people that it represents them, even though they never had a chance to vote on its members. Coalition leaders say an election in Iraq is not yet practical.

Images of the inauguration were broadcast live by Western and Arab satellite television, received in about 40 percent of homes in Baghdad. Council members -- some dressed in traditional Arab robes, some in Islamic cleric garb, others in business suits -- sat in a semicircle of chairs on a stage before an audience of dignitaries.