Summary of Iraq's Interim Constitution

The Iraqi Governing Council signed an interim constitution on Monday. The 25-page document, or Transitional Administrative Law, was published in Arabic and English. Here is a summary, which was released by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority:

The Transitional Administrative Law will be the Supreme Law of Iraq, during the transitional period. It will expire once a government is elected under a permanent constitution and take office. This will happen no later than December 31, 2005. The transitional period will consist of two phases:

Phase I: On 30 June 2004, an Iraqi Interim Government will be vested with full sovereignty, and the Coalition Provisional Authority will dissolve. This Iraqi government will be formed through a process of widespread consultation with the Iraqi people and will govern according to the Transitional Administrative Law and an annex to be issued before the beginning of the transitional period.

Phase II: The Iraqi Transitional Government will take office after elections for the National Assembly. These elections will take place as soon as possible, but no later than 31 January 2005.

The Fundamental Principles of the Law include the following:

The system of government in Iraq will be republican, federal, democratic, and pluralistic. Federalism will be based on geography, history, and the separation of powers and not on ethnicity or sect.

The Iraqi Armed Forces will fall under the control of Iraq's civilian political leadership.

Islam will be the official religion of the State and will be considered a source of legislation. The Law will respect the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantee the freedom of religious belief and practice.

Arabic and Kurdish will be the official languages of Iraq.

The people of Iraq are sovereign and free. All Iraqis are equal in their rights and without regard to gender, nationality, religion, or ethnic origin and they are equal before the law. Those unjustly deprived of their citizenship by previous Iraqi regimes will have the right to reclaim their citizenship. The government will respect the rights of the people, including the rights:

To freedom of thought, conscience, and expression;

To assemble peaceably and to associate and organize freely;

To justice; to a fair, speedy, and open trial and to the presumption of innocence;

To vote, according to law, in free, fair, competitive and periodic elections;

To file grievances against officials when these rights have been violated.

The Transitional Iraqi Government will contain checks, balances, and the separation of powers. The federal government will have the exclusive right to exercise sovereign power in a number of critical areas, including the management and control of the following:

National security policy; independent militias shall be prohibited,

Foreign policy, diplomatic representation, and border control,

National fiscal, monetary and commercial policy,

National resources; revenues from which must be spent on the needs of all of Iraq's regions in an equitable manner.

The Transitional Legislative Authority will be vested in a National Assembly, which will pass laws and help select and oversee the work of the executive authority. The National Assembly will be freely elected by the people of Iraq, under an electoral system designed to achieve representation of women of at least one-quarter of its members, as well as fair representation of all of Iraq's communities.

The Transitional Executive Authority will consist of the Presidency and the Council of Ministers, including the Prime Minister.

The Presidency Council will consist of the President and two Deputy Presidents, and will be elected by the National Assembly as a group. The Presidency Council will represent the sovereignty of Iraq, may veto laws, and make appointments. All decisions of the Presidency Council will be taken unanimously.

The Presidency Council will nominate the Prime Minister and, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, will also nominate the Council of Ministers. All ministers will need to be confirmed in a vote of confidence by the National Assembly.

The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers will oversee the day-to-day management of the government.

The Federal Judicial Authority will be independent. A Federal Supreme Court will be created to hear judicial appeals and to ensure that all laws in Iraq are consistent with the Transitional Administrative Law. It will consist of nine members, who will be appointed by the Presidency Council upon the recommendation of an impartial Higher Juridical Council.

Federalism and local government will ensure a unified Iraq and prevent the concentration of power in the central government that enabled decades of tyranny and oppression. This will encourage the exercise of local authority in which all citizens are able to participate actively in political life.

The Kurdistan Regional Government will be recognized as an official regional government within a unified Iraq, and will continue to exercise many of the functions it currently exercises. Groups of governorates elsewhere in Iraq will be permitted to form regions, and take on additional authorities.

The governorates will have Governors and Governorate Councils, in addition to municipal, local, and city councils as appropriate.

All authorities not reserved to the Federal Government may be exercised as appropriate by the governorates and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Elections for Governorate Councils throughout Iraq, and also for the Kurdistan National Assembly will be held at the same time as elections for the National Assembly, no later than 31 January 2005.

Iraq's security will be defended by Iraqi Armed Forces, working together with the Coalition. Consistent with Iraq's sovereign status, the Iraqi Armed Forces will play a leading role as a partner in the multinational force helping to bring security to Iraq in the transitional period. The Iraqi Transitional Government will also have the authority to negotiate a security agreement with Coalition forces.

The National Assembly will be responsible for drafting the permanent constitution.

After consulting with the Iraqi people and completing a draft, the proposed constitution will be submitted to the public in a referendum, which will occur no later than 15 October 2005. If the constitution is adopted, elections for a new government under the constitution will be held, and the new government will take office no later than 31 December 2005.