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Plans for Iraq's Transition

By Yasser Alaskary
Thursday, June 5, 2003

The Coalition administration in Iraq has decided to select a small group of 25-30 Iraqis to form a political council and to convene a national assembly that will write the country's constitution. The details of the council and assembly are unknown, with some sources saying that the political council will only have an advisory role.

Clearly, the writing of the constitution, and to a lesser extent, the political council represent the key foundations for the new Iraq. These must be done correctly to allow Iraq to progress towards genuine democracy.

The National Assembly

The constitution is set to be written by a national assembly. For Iraqis to feel that they are involved in the shaping of their future and that they will have a genuine democracy that gives them true freedom and liberty then certain conditions for its formation must be met:

  • The national assembly must be directly elected by the people. The assembly must proportionally represent the people of Iraq and they must feel they are involved in writing the constitution so that it addresses their needs and wishes. This will also create a sense of loyalty and allegiance to the constitution by all Iraqis, which has never existed before. This will guarantee the country's stability and success.

  • Failing this, the national assembly should at least be elected by the local councils. Instead of general elections, the local councillors that are being formed for each city are told to select between themselves representatives for the national assembly. Again proportional representation of all ethnicities is vital, so that all Iraqis feel they are correctly represented in the council. This is not a completely satisfactory solution, but if general elections are impossible then this represents the minimum to create a constitution that will be respected and adhered to by Iraqis.

All participants should be required to adhere to the Nassiriyah Principals and to the creation of a democratic, pluralistic Iraq.

The other consideration in writing the constitution is the conditions under which it is done. It should not be done under occupation since this will smear Iraq's democracy for decades to come and will not become a favourable democratic model for the rest of the Middle East since Arabs are very sensitive to formalities. The constitution will always be identified as being written under occupation and, whether true or not, will be regarded as being forced upon Iraq. This point relates directly with the next, namely, the rule of Iraq during the transition.

The Political Council

The plans to scrap the Baghdad conference and to just handpick people for the Political Council does not really represent a drastic change in policy since the council would have always been selected rather than elected. While the Coalition administration in Iraq is saying that Iraqis will be selected based on their qualifications rather than who they are, this does not negate the requirement for the council to be proportionally representative of Iraq's population. Anything less would symbolise the continuation of minority rule.

Furthermore, the power that the council will have and the name to which it is referred will greatly influence the way it is perceived by Iraqis. There is already great tension inside Iraq due to the lack of a national Iraqi government. If the council is set to have only an advisory role, as some reports have indicated, then this will be a recipe for unrest:

  • Regional powers will take full advantage by playing into people's dissatisfaction with the situation. They may arm and fund political powers, which might send the situation into chaos.

  • The move may alienate the vast majority of political groups and make Iraq's transition towards democracy very difficult.


The basic key to success is for Iraqis to be at least seen to be determining their own future and for every process to proportionally represent Iraq's population. Only then can Iraq become a strong model of democracy for the rest of the Middle East.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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