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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 01:33 GMT
US 'wants Iraq council scrapped'

By David Bamford
BBC correspondent in Washington

Iyad Alawi, head of Iraqi Provisional Governing Council
The Iraqi Governing Council's days may be numbered
Reports from the United States suggest the Bush administration has become so frustrated with the Iraqi Governing Council, it may be looking to scrap it.

The Washington Post newspaper quotes a senior US official as saying the administration has become alarmed at the IGC's failure to make important decisions.

According to the paper, the US is actively looking for an alternative strategy.

It has reportedly become frustrated by individual members on the US-appointed council who, officials say, spend all their time promoting private agendas rather than making important collective decisions.

'Potential to govern'

But Richard Perle, a right-wing Pentagon adviser, said in a TV interview he would be recommending against making changes.

"The Iraqi Governing Council consists of people who represent large elements of the Iraqi society," he said.

"If we're impatient, we shouldn't be because they have the potential to govern the country and govern it effectively."

Although the council does include figures from each of Iraq's Sunni, Shia and Kurdish groups, its members were handpicked by the Americans and there have been doubts about whether some represent anyone but themselves.

New look

The council was set up soon after Baghdad was taken, when many in the US assumed the transition to an elected government would be a matter of months.

Now it is acknowledged by all sides this is untenable.

Some like Senator Joe Biden think a fresh look now would provide a further chance of improved international co-operation.

"I'd use that as the entree with the French to say we can work out an arrangement here," he said.

One possibility being reconsidered, according to quoted US officials, is that of an interim sovereign body as in Afghanistan - a model that the French have been advocating in Iraq for some time.




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