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Chalabi: Iraqis must draft constitution alone

U.S. Army expected to announce Iraq rotation plan

Chalabi speaks to reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday.
Chalabi speaks to reporters at the United Nations on Tuesday.

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iraq's new constitution must be written only by Iraqis, members of the new Iraqi governing council said Tuesday after meeting with the U.N. Security Council.

Governing council head Ahmed Chalabi said the group would determine a method of selecting delegates to a constitutional convention but would not itself write the constitution.

"We look forward for cooperation with the U.N. in establishing and drafting a constitution," said Chalabi, a former exile and a Pentagon favorite.

"This process has to be entirely in the hands of Iraqis, and it has to be done by a constitutional convention that is completely free of all other institutions in Iraq, including the governing council."

Earlier, two protesters disrupted the Security Council meeting by shouting that the delegation members were not legitimate representatives. U.N. security guards dragged out a woman and questioned her before both protesters were escorted off U.N. property.

Chalabi also called for Iraq's neighbors "to be more positive about what is going on in Iraq."

"We had hoped this delegation would occupy Iraq's seat in the U.N., and we understand this was not approved due to the reservations of some of the neighbors," Chalabi said.

The General Assembly's approval would be required for the governing council to formally assume Iraq's seat.

Said Ahmad, the diplomat left in charge of Iraq's U.N. mission by Saddam Hussein's government, said he looked forward to the new Iraq. "All of us, all Iraqi people ... were awaiting this change [for] a long time," he said.

Ahmad said he and the four other diplomats in the mission have been in frequent contact since April with the Iraqi Foreign Ministry operating under the U.S.-led coalition.

Chalabi was joined by fellow council members Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister who now represents the Iraqi Independent Democrats, and Aquila al-Hashemi, who had been a mid-level diplomat in Saddam's Foreign Ministry.

Also with the three governing council members was a former Iraqi mission diplomat, Mohammad Al-Humaimidi, who defected from the mission two years ago.

Pachachi, the 80-year-old chief of the delegation, said the council would appoint government ministers "quite soon, we hope in the next few weeks."

Coming home

The U.S. Army is expected to announce Wednesday a plan to rotate troops in and out of Iraq during the next several months. Scheduled to come home first are the two remaining brigades of the 3rd Infantry Division, sources said.

It is expected they will be replaced by a brigade from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, Army reserve units and the so-called Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis, Washington.

The Stryker Brigade consists of high-tech, light-armored wheeled vehicles. It is finishing an evaluation phase and has never been deployed.

The next unit most likely to return from Iraq to the United States is the 101st Airborne Division. Sources told CNN its most likely replacements would be a mix of brigades from the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, and in Germany, and possibly elements of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Other developments

• Saddam's two sons were killed by U.S. troops in Mosul after a tipster betrayed their hideout, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq said Tuesday. The bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein were identified from "multiple sources," Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said. The U.S. military might release pictures of the bodies in an effort to convince skeptics, a senior Pentagon official told CNN late Tuesday. (Full story)

• One U.S. soldier was killed Tuesday morning and another wounded when rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire hit their vehicle in a 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment convoy north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Tuesday's death brought the number of Americans killed in Iraq to 94 since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Thirty-seven deaths have occurred during hostile action, 28 so far in July. In all, 232 members of the U.S. military have been killed in the Iraq war, 152 of them in hostile action. A Red Cross worker was killed later Tuesday in an ambush south of the Iraqi capital, agency officials said. (Interactive: U.S. deaths as of July 21)

• U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch returned to her hometown in West Virginia on Tuesday to thousands of cheering residents who lined the streets waving flags and holding welcoming signs. "It's great to be home. I would like to say thank you to everyone who hoped and prayed for my safe return," said Lynch, who has undergone four months of recuperation after being rescued April 1 as a POW in Iraq. (Full story).

CNN correspondents Barbara Starr, Rym Brahimi and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.


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