OVERVIEW: GOVERNING COUNCIL
The Iraqi Governing Council was appointed by the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in July 2003.
The council has some significant powers. It can appoint and dismiss ministers and controls the national budget.
It will also oversee the creation of a congress to draft a new Iraqi constitution. National elections are set to follow a referendum on this constitution.
However, the CPA retains real power. It controls "operational security" and can veto decisions made by the council.
Most of those holding council seats were members of Saddam Hussein's opposition in exile. One of the strongest criticisms of the council is that it is a collection of outsiders who cannot properly represent the Iraqi people.
The council appointed a cabinet of 25 ministers in early September, after months of wrangling to ensure those selected accurately represented the ethnic and religious make-up of the country.