New Government Is Formed in Iraq as Attacks Go On
BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 1 — With bombs and mortar shells exploding outside, a new Iraqi government stepped forward Tuesday to guide the country toward democratic elections, less than a month from the day the United States will formally restore sovereignty to this restive land.
Led by a new prime minister, Iyad Allawi, a diverse cabinet of 33 Iraqis accepted their appointments in a ceremony marked by extraordinary security, a somber tone and measured promises of better days.
The formation of the new government ended weeks of bruising negotiations that prompted complaints of American heavy-handedness and a last-minute deadlock over the choice of a president. The impasse was broken Tuesday morning, when Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister, said he was turning down the job.
Mr. Pachachi, who did not attend the ceremony, said the notion that he was the favorite candidate of the Americans appeared to have wrecked his credibility with the Iraqi people. "I want to say I was never the occupation's candidate," he said.
Mr. Pachachi's withdrawal cleared the way for Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni tribal leader who had been backed by the members of the Iraqi Governing Council.
After agreeing on giving him the presidency, the Governing Council, set up by the Americans last summer, dissolved itself, removing the Americans' only current Iraqi partner in governing the country. Members of the new government, only a handful of whom served on the council, said they would start moving into their offices as early as Wednesday.
The government, made up of professionals and former guerrillas and political prisoners, emerged from a United Nations-led process intended to give it enough credibility to guide Iraq through the rough days expected before elections in January.
The new leaders seemed to make it their first order of business to prepare their people for the likelihood of a continued large-scale presence of American troops. Under a revised United Nations Security Council resolution presented Tuesday, an American-led force would remain in Iraq until "the political process" was complete, in late 2005 or early 2006.
The American troops are an unpleasant necessity, the Iraqis said into the television cameras, to hold the country together in the face of a guerrilla insurgency and terror attacks.
"Like any country, we don't want to continue to be under occupation," said Mr. Allawi, who spent much of the last decade trying to topple Saddam Hussein with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency. "But at the same time, we need the support of the multinational forces to defeat the enemies of Iraq."
The formation of the government was largely the task of Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations envoy invited by the Bush administration and Iraqi leaders to bestow greater legitimacy on what had been a mostly American enterprise. Mr. Brahimi, looking rumpled and drawn after weeks of diplomacy, said he had scoured the far reaches of Iraq to find people who might adequately reflect its vast diversity.
Even then, he said, he probably fell short.
"I don't believe that the rich resources of this country, that the knowledge and experience of its people, could possibly be represented in a government of just 33 people," Mr. Brahimi said.
He tried to address concerns that he had knuckled under to American pressure and appointed a group not much different from the one that preceded it. While three of the five top jobs in the new government went to members of the American-picked Governing Council, much of the rest of the cabinet is made up of relatively little-known Iraqis of widely varying background and experience.
The cabinet includes Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians; Iraqis who fled Mr. Hussein's government; and those who were tortured in its prisons. Six of its members are women, and 16 of them were educated in either the United States or Britain.
Mr. Brahimi, along with American and Iraqi leaders, agreed to the formation of a quasi-national assembly comprising 100 Iraqis. Under the plan, the National Council, as it is called, will be chosen at a gathering of at least 1,000 Iraqis, after what is described as "a genuine national dialogue" in July. The National Council would be empowered to veto — by a two-thirds majority vote — laws approved by the interim government.
Some Iraqi leaders suggested that the National Council could be used to bring into the mainstream some Iraqis, like the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who have turned to violence.
In the same way, the ceremony that unfolded Tuesday afternoon inside a grandiose building once known as the Saddam Clock Tower reflected a larger goal, expressed by Iraqi leaders and the Bush administration, to begin to stem the violence by giving Iraqis a stake in the governing of their country.
"When the Iraqi people start realizing that we are really getting sovereignty, then the anger will calm down," said Hajim al-Hassani, the minister for industry and minerals.
Many of the new Iraqi leaders, including the president, Sheik Yawar, said they would insist that Iraqis be given "full sovereignty," meaning that the government could do more or less whatever it wanted. And they said talks would begin immediately on the influence over American combat operations.
But in more subdued moments, some Iraqi leaders said they realized that the presence of more than 100,000 foreign troops would make that goal difficult to achieve.
Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, said he expected that Iraqi leaders would be given at least an advisory role in most major American military decisions, including the conduct of individual operations. Yet at the same time, he said the armed forces of his own government would probably fall under at least limited American command.
"Iraqi security forces will be part and parcel of the command structure," Mr. Rubaie said. "But on all military decisions, we will be consulted."
As if to underscore the continuing problems of security, a wave of violence swept near the place where the ceremony was held, despite American efforts to keep its time and place secret. A car bomb exploded just outside the Green Zone headquarters of the occupation administration, killing at least three people and wounding dozens.
The blasts from five mortar shells could be heard as well, one of them landing so close to the American-controlled convention center that it shook the walls and sent a white mushroom cloud spiraling upward. No one was hurt in that attack.
The ceremony was marked by a number of oddities that distinguished it from similar events in the past. It was a mostly Iraqi affair, conducted entirely in Arabic, with only an occasional nod to the Americans. No Iraqi flag was visible in the room, perhaps because of confusion over which one to use: the old one, tainted by the government of Mr. Hussein, or the recently designed new one, which has proved to be unpopular.
With so many Iraqis and Americans killed in the last 14 months, and with even the basic elements of peace and stability missing in everyday life, the speakers who took to the podium made few sweeping promises.
But there were hints of battles to come. As he stood to accept his job as deputy president, Rowsch Shaways, a Kurdish leader, reminded the audience of the necessity of heeding the country's interim constitution, which was hammered out after painstaking negotiations this year.
Among the document's elements are its protections for the Kurds, including a provision that would allow the three mostly Kurdish provinces to invalidate the permanent constitution when it is put to a vote, probably next year. The provision was included in the constitution as a reassurance to the Kurds that their hard-won autonomy would not be taken away from them.
Many of Iraq's Shiite leaders, who represent the country's largest group, have vowed to amend the interim constitution to take that provision out. Mr. Shaways seemed to be reminding other Iraqi leaders just how much the Kurdish people valued their rights to self-rule.
"This constitution will preserve national unity and Arab-Kurdish brotherhood," he said.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the day's events was the low profile of L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator here, who had been active behind the scenes in choosing the new government. Mr. Bremer sat quietly during the ceremony, next to Mr. Brahimi, and was mentioned only occasionally.
In this and in other ways, the event seemed more Iraqi than American. And that, according to some of the Iraqis here, was a picture of what to expect after June 30.
"Paul Bremer and his team are going to leave Iraq," Mr. Rubaie said, "and we are going to give him a farewell party."
Edward Wong contributed reporting for this article.