Iraq's interim government, called the Governing Council, is made up of 25 people responsible for creating a new Iraq. Next week, they plan to begin appointing Cabinet members. Eventually, they will organize a commission to draft a constitution.
Yesterday, they said they considered it their duty to convene a court to try high-level officials of the Saddam Hussein government for war crimes. They have the authority to approve a budget for next year. They are trying to fill Iraq's seat at the United Nations. They plan to rebuild the military and other governmental bodies.
The council, appointed Sunday by U.S. officials after extensive negotiations with various constituencies, includes a Christian, a Turkmen, five Kurds, 13 Arab Shiites and five Arab Sunnis (22 are men and three are women).
Following are brief biographies of each, provided by the Associated Press:
AHMAD CHALABI: A Shiite and leader of the London-based anti-Hussein Iraqi National Congress. Chalabi, a 58-year-old former banker who left Iraq as a teen-ager, had been singled out in some U.S. government circles as a future Iraqi leader - though he denies he has any ambitions to lead the country. He also has many critics who are opposed to anyone ruling Iraq after spending so many years abroad. Chalabi was convicted in absentia of fraud in a banking scandal in Jordan in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His group is an umbrella organization for a number of disparate groups, including Kurds and Shiites.
ABDEL-AZIZ AL-HAKIM: A Shiite and a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. SCIRI, long based in neighboring Iran, opposes a U.S. administration in the country but has close ties with the other U.S.-backed groups that opposed Hussein, including the Kurds and Chalabi's INC.
JALAL TALABANI: A Sunni Kurd and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He and Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party led the Kurdish zone in northern Iraq that had near-autonomy from Hussein's regime since the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Born in Kirkuk province in 1934, Talabani joined the KDP at the age of 15 and rose to its politburo in 1953. But he broke with the KDP and founded the PUK in 1957.
MASSOUD BARZANI: A Sunni Kurd and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Barzani, 56, leads the KDP, founded in 1946 by his father, the legendary mountain warrior Mustafa Barzani. He was a teen-ager when he became an aide to his father, then became KDP president when his father died in 1979. In 1983, three of his brothers disappeared in what Kurds call an Iraqi massacre of the Barzani clan, when 8,000 people were rounded up by the Baghdad regime.
IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI: A Shiite and the main spokesman for the Islamic Dawa Party. The party, once based in Iran, launched a bloody campaign against Hussein's regime in the late 1970s, but it was crushed in 1982. The group said it lost 77,000 members in its war against Hussein. Born in Karbala, al-Jaafari was educated at Mosul University as a medical doctor.
NASEER KAMEL AL-CHADERCHI: A Sunni and leader of the National Democratic Party. He lives in Baghdad and works as a lawyer, businessman and farm owner. He is the son of Kamel al-Chaderchi, who played a leading role in Iraq's democratic development until 1968, when the Baath Party seized power.
IYAD ALLAWI: A Shiite and secretary-general of the Iraq National Accord. He is a medical doctor and began opposition to the Iraqi regime in the early 1970s. He was at the forefront of efforts to organize opposition both within Iraq and abroad.
ADNAN PACHACHI: A Sunni who served as foreign minister in the government deposed by Hussein's Baath Party in 1968. The respected, 80-year-old politician founded the Independent Democratic Movement in February to provide a platform for Iraqis who back a secular, democratic government. He returned to Iraq in May after 32 years in exile.
AHMAD SHYA'A AL-BARAK: A Shiite and general coordinator for the Human Rights Association of Babel. He also is coordinator for the Iraqi Bar Association. He has worked with United Nations programs in Iraq since 1991 in the Foreign Ministry.
AQUILA AL-HASHIMI: A Shiite and diplomat, she led the Iraqi delegation to the New York donors conference for Iraq. She holds a doctorate in modern literature and bachelor's degree in law.
RAJA HABIB AL-KHUZAAI: A Shiite woman who heads the maternity hospital in the southern city of Diwaniyah. She studied and lived in Britain from the late 1960s until 1977, when she returned to Iraq.
HAMID MAJID MOUSSA: A Shiite and secretary of the Iraqi Communist Party since 1993. He is an economist and petroleum researcher. He left Iraq in 1978 and returned in 1983 to continue his political activities against the Hussein regime.
MOHAMMED BAHR AL-ULOUM: A highly respected Shiite cleric who returned from London where he headed the Ahl al-Bayt charitable center. He was elected as the Shiite member of a leadership triumvirate by the Iraqi opposition after the 1991 gulf war.
GHAZI MASHAL AJIL AL-YAWER: A Sunni who was born in the northern city of Mosul. He is a civil engineer and recently was vice president of Hicap Technology Co. in Saudi Arabia.
MOHSEN ABDEL-HAMID: A Sunni and secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party. He was born in the northern city of Kirkuk and is author of more than 30 books on interpretation of the Quran. He was detained in 1996 on a charge of reorganizing the IIP.
SAMIR SHAKIR MAHMOUD: A Sunni and member of al-Sumaidy clan. A writer from the western city of Haditha, he was a prominent figure in the opposition to Hussein's regime.
MAHMOUD OTHMAN: A Sunni Kurd who is politically independent but a longtime leader of the Kurdish National Struggle.
SALAHEDDINE MUHAMMAD BAHAAEDDINE: A Sunni Kurd who was first elected secretary-general of the Kurdistan Islamic Union in the first conference of the party in 1994. He was born in the Kurdish village of Halabja and has written several books in Kurdish and Arabic.
YOUNADEM KANA: An Assyrian Christian, secretary-general of the Democratic Assyrian Movement and active member of the Assyrian-Chaldean Christian community. He was a former minister of public works and housing and a former minister of industry and energy in Iraqi Kurdistan. He began activism against Hussein in 1979.
MOUWAFAK AL-RABII: A Shiite and longtime human rights activist. A member of the British Royal Doctors' College, he practices internal medicine and neurology.
DARA NOOR ALZIN: A Sunni Kurd who served as a judge on the Court of Appeal. He ruled that one of Hussein's edicts - confiscating land without proper compensation - was unconstitutional. He was sentenced to two years in prison and served eight months at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad before being released in a general amnesty in October.
SONDUL CHAPOUK: A Turkmen woman from the northern city of Kirkuk. She was trained as an engineer and teacher. She serves as leader of the Iraqi Women's Organization.
WAEL ABDUL-LATIF: A Shiite lawyer and judge, named governor of the southern city of Basra on July 4 by local authorities.
ABDUL-KARIM MAHMOUD AL-MOHAMMEDAWI: A Shiite, dubbed "Prince of the Marshes" for leading the resistance movement against Hussein in the southern marsh region of Iraq for 17 years. He was imprisoned for six years and leads the Iraqi political group Hezbollah in the southern city of Amarah.
ABDEL-ZAHRAA OTHMAN: A Shiite and the leader of the Islamic Dawa Movement in Basra. He is a writer, philosopher and political activist, who served as editor of several newspapers and magazines.