New Iraqi governing body declares April 9th as national holiday marking Saddam fall

Published July 13th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

A governing body bringing together leading Iraqis from all walks of political and religious life met Sunday for the first time. In its first public act, the council declared April 9 as a national holiday marking Saddam's fall from power and wiped out six dates that were celebrated under the old regime.  

 

"The establishment of this council represents the Iraqi national will after the collapse of the dictatorial regime," said council member Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, a prominent Shiite cleric from Najaf, announcing the new holiday.  

 

L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's American administrator, said the Governing Council of Iraq is part of the U.S. "plan to support the establishment of this government of, by and for Iraqis."  

 

"It represents all the strands from Iraq's complicated social structure — Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, men and women, Christians and Turkmens," Bremer wrote in an opinion piece posted on the New York Times web site Saturday.  

 

"The council will immediately exercise real political power, appointing interim ministers and working with the coalition on policy and budgets," he added.  

 

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N. representative to Iraq, called the day "historic" and an important step toward returning sovereignty back to the Iraqi people. "Iraq is moving back to where it rightfully belongs, at peace with itself and a member of the community of nations," de Mello said. He added that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan promised the world body would be "here for you, in any way you wish, and for as long as you need."  

 

Iraq's seven main groups that opposed Saddam's rule and other political leaders met Saturday in Baghdad and were hoping to hold a final organizational meeting in the capital the next day, said Adel Noory Mohammed, a leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Union.  

 

The council has 13 Shiites, 5 Kurds, 5 Sunnis, 1 Christian and 1 Turkoman — a woman. 

 

On the panel are Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, leaders of the two main Kurdish groups, and former foreign minister Adnan Pachachi. (Albawaba.com) 

© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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