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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Saddam's apparatus abolished
US marine beside mural of Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein's power structure is being dismantled
The new American administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has abolished the ministries and institutions that formed the backbone of Saddam Hussein's power structure.

The Iraqi army - including Saddam Hussein's once formidable Republican Guard - has been disbanded, and will be replaced by a new defence force.

The defence and information ministries, the military and security courts and the Olympic Committee have all been dissolved.

In a separate move aimed at restoring order, the top US military commander in Iraq announced on Friday that Iraqis would be banned from carrying heavy or automatic weapons.

Professional body
Recruits to be vetted

Last week, Mr Bremer abolished the Baath Party and banned its members from working in the public sector.

Under the latest order, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis face the sack and their assets will be turned over to the occupying powers.

The BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says Mr Bremer's announcement is a highly symbolic act, designed to draw a line under the Saddam era.

He says the US administrator is anxious to assert his authority, and convince Iraqis that a radical transformation of their country really is under way.

In other developments:

  • A team of inspectors from the UN nuclear agency the IAEA is preparing to return to Iraq to investigate reports of looting at Tuwaitha, one of the country's nuclear sites

  • Foreign ministers from the world's leading industrialised nations meet in Paris to discuss the future of Iraq

  • Hundreds of companies meet in London to compete for contracts for post-war reconstruction in Iraq

  • Former Baath Party commander Aziz Sajih Al-Numan - number eight on the US list of wanted Iraqis - is detained near Baghdad

  • US troops in Iraq seize a truck carrying an estimated $500m worth of gold bullion at a checkpoint near the Syrian border

  • Iraq is removed from a US list of countries not co-operating with the fight against terrorism

  • Lions formerly owned by Saddam Hussein's son Uday are to be transferred to game parks in South Africa

New Iraqi Corps

The US-led administration in Iraq said a new force would replace the Iraqi army.

"The Coalition Provisional Authority plans to create, in the near future, a new Iraqi Corps. This is the first step in forming a national self-defence capability for a free Iraq," it said in a statement.

US soldiers put a weapon stash left by the defeated Iraqi Army in the grounds of a police station in Baghdad
The collapse of the military made heavy arms available
It said the corps would be "professional, non-political, militarily effective, and representative of all Iraqis", and would be under civilian control.

General David McKiernan, who heads US military forces in Iraq, said on Friday that there would probably be a two-week amnesty before the planned ban on heavy weapons came into force.

US forces intended to "reduce the threat posed by automatic or heavy weapons and small arms carried in public," he said.

"The intention is not to completely disarm the Iraqi population. That is neither practical nor necessary," he added.

Kurdish fighters in the north are likely to be exempt from the ban.

Sanctions lifted

The latest moves came the day after the United Nations Security Council overwhelmingly approved a resolution lifting economic sanctions against Iraq and giving its backing to the US-led administration.

Fourteen of the 15 UN Security Council members voted to adopt the US resolution lifting sanctions, including France, Russia and Germany - all countries which opposed the war on Iraq.

The resolution includes an expansion of the role of the UN, a key demand of Russia and France.

However, the BBC's Jon Leyne at the UN says the organisation's role in Iraq will not be a substantial one.

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