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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 August, 2004, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Iraqi national assembly approved
Iraqi national conference delegates
The list was approved after four days of heated debate
Delegates at a conference to select an interim Iraqi national assembly have approved a government-backed list of 81 candidates without holding a vote.

The move came after a rival list was withdrawn, amid protests that the main parties had dominated the process.

The conference had gone into an unscheduled fourth day after disputes over how to choose the assembly.

The other 19 seats have been handed to members of the now-defunct US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

The new assembly, known as the National Council, will be able to:

  • veto legislation with a two-thirds majority

  • approve the 2005 budget

  • appoint a new prime minister or president, should either resign or die in office.

It will also oversee the government and pave the way for elections in January 2005.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Baghdad says that although the Iraqi national conference has done what it was meant to do, it was not the epitome of democracy and action that it was supposed to be.

Our correspondent says there were strong protests from many delegates, making a mockery of its billing as the first step towards democracy.

One who complained was Nagi al-Salihi, head of a group called Free Iraqi Civilians and Officers, who told reporters that a "corrupt" system was to blame.

"It's impossible to build a free Iraq in this way," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

"Representatives of [Prime Minister Iyad] Allawi and other officials want a parliament that just roots for them and not for the Iraqi people," he added.


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