INTERNATIONAL

Iraq/ President-elect promises sovereignty

BAGHDAD, JUNE 1. The U.S. and Saudi-educated head of the U.S.-backed Iraq's Governing Council and critic of the U.S.-led occupation was named President of the interim Iraqi government on Tuesday, after the Americans' preferred candidate turned down the post.

The selection of Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer to the largely ceremonial position broke a deadlock over the makeup of a new Iraqi government set to assume power on June 30. Iraqi leaders said the Americans were trying to force them to accept the former Finance Minister, Adnan Pachachi.

The Governing Council then decided to dissolve immediately rather than remain in office until the transfer of sovereignty to the new government, said a council member, Younadam Kana.

Mr. Al-Yawer pledged to rise ``above sectarianism and divisions,'' build a democratic state free of ``totalitarianism and discrimination'' and restore Iraq's ``civilised face.

``I pledge and vow before you to be a loyal defender of your expectations in restoring the complete sovereignty of our country and establishing a democratic and federal system under which people enjoy a free citizenship in a state of laws and freedom,'' Mr. al-Yawer said.

A senior Bush administration official said the Council dissolved to allow the new government to begin taking over responsibilities immediately. Still, the U.S.-led occupation authority will continue to run Iraq until June 30, the official said on condition of anonymity. ``We Iraqis look forward to being granted full sovereignty through a Security Council resolution to enable us to rebuild a free, independent, democratic and federal unified homeland,'' Mr. al-Yawer told a press conference.

The Prime Minister of the incoming government, Iyad Allawi, also announced his 30-member Cabinet. The administration official said the new Cabinet would begin negotiations on the status of U.S.-led international forces in Iraq after June 30 ``fairly soon.''

In those talks, the Iraqis are seeking greater say over the operations of Iraqi security forces as well as the 135,000 American troops and other coalition forces on Iraqi soil.

As word of the appointment was announced, a car bomb blew up outside the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is located just outside the green zone U.S. coalition headquarters in Baghdad.

The Arab language television stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya quoted police as saying about 10 persons were killed, but the information could not immediately be confirmed. Another blast, followed by gunfire, sent a mushroom cloud billowing into the air. A roadside bomb also exploded near a U.S. military base in the northern town of Beiji, killing 11 Iraqis — including seven members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps — and wounding more than 22 people, including two U.S. soldiers.

AP