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Deadline set for Iraqi power transfer

Iraqi Council President Jalal Talabani attending a press conference with council member Ahmed Chalabi in Baghdad, Saturday.
Iraqi Council President Jalal Talabani attending a press conference with council member Ahmed Chalabi in Baghdad, Saturday.

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Iraq will have a new transitional government by the end of June 2004.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq will have a new transitional government with full sovereign powers by the end of June 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council said Saturday, and will have a constitution and a permanent, democratically elected government by the end of 2005.

The statement followed a meeting with the U.S.-backed coalition's civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer, who recently met with President Bush. He returned to Baghdad with new proposals for the council aimed at speeding up the transfer of authority to Iraqis.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority will dissolve at that time, council authorities said in Saturday's news conference, and "the state of occupation will end."

The council did not, however, discuss the Bush administration's insistence that any transfer of power include arrangements for a continued U.S. and international military presence.

Many members of the Iraqi Governing Council -- as well as some leaders of the U.S. Congress -- have said they want the U.S. military to leave as soon as possible, but the White House said Friday that U.S. troops would remain in Iraq until former President Saddam Hussein is killed or captured.

The timetable calls for having a full constitution and a permanent government in place by June 2005, council member Ahmed Chalabi told reporters.

The constitution, council authorities said, will be drafted by a council "directly elected by the people."

The coalition-backed Governing Council and the cabinet ministers it appointed will remain in place until the new government takes over by the end of June.

The council members said first they will draft a law by the end of February that will include provisions for selecting the transitional council. That law also would provide for setting up a "democratic, federal, pluralistic united system of government" that respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people as well as the country's various religious sects, the council said.

"This law will embody the principles that find general consensus among the Iraqi people ... respect for human rights and respect for basic political freedoms, including freedom of religion and the practice of religion and the equality of all citizens," said council member Ahmed Chalabi, reading from a statement prepared by the council.

The new law will maintain a separation of the executive, judicial and legislative systems, civilian control of military and security forces, as well as some degree of autonomy for the Kurdish people in northern Iraq.

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