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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 June, 2004, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
The quarrel over Iraq appointments
By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

Ghazi Yawer (left) and Adnan Pachachi
The battle for the presidency was much more divisive than imagined
The new Iraqi president will be Ghazi Yawer, a Sunni Arab who was the preferred candidate of the Iraqi Governing Council.

Adnan Pachachi - a veteran Sunni politician reportedly favoured by US officials and the UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi - was offered the post but turned it down.

Last week the IGC succeeded in getting one of its members declared prime minister, and now its preferred choice has been named president.

In the three-cornered tussle between the council, the chief US administrator Paul Bremer and the UN special envoy, the council has proved remarkably successful.

But whether this messy and quarrelsome process will produce a government that is credible in the eyes of Iraqis - and for that matter the wider world - is open to doubt.

Forced into a back seat

The original idea was that Mr Brahimi would play the lead role.

He would consult widely with Iraqis and work closely with US officials, but the UN would be in the driving seat, thereby giving the new government an indispensable degree of legitimacy.

Instead the veteran UN envoy has been upstaged.

Instead of announcing appointments, he has been left approving the preferred candidates of the IGC.

It is convenient, of course, for the council to claim that it speaks for the Iraqi people.

But all the available evidence, including that from opinion polls, suggests that it does not.

Credibility crucial

Their defiant slogan has been that Iraqis, not outsiders, should choose the new government.

The sentiment may be patriotic but it is also self-serving. As Iraqi politics hots up - as it is already beginning to do - politicians are seeking to build a credibility they never managed to achieve during the life of the Governing Council.

Standing up to the Americans is now seen as the route to political advancement.

One danger is that this confrontational style of politics will carry over into the next phase of Iraq's transition.

As he shares power with the new authorities during the remainder of this month, Mr Bremer may not find it easy to accommodate the mood of newly-awakened Iraqi nationalism.

Perhaps it was always unlikely that the birth of the new government would be an immaculate conception. But it was not supposed to be like this.


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