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Iraq: Government Overview
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Government Overview


In the years following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, governance of Iraq passed through several stages. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), established by the United States to govern the country immediately following the occupation, officially transferred sovereignty to an Interim Iraqi Government in June 2004. This was a first step in building a new, indigenous government structure in Iraq. The Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), functioning as an interim constitution until the end of 2005, called for Iraq to have a permanent republican, federal government system; power was to be shared among the central government, 18 governorates (provinces), and local and municipal governments. The autonomy of one region, Kurdistan, was specifically recognized. In January 2005, national elections to seat an interim parliament were a second step in establishing a permanent government. That parliament built the framework for the writing of a new constitution and the election of a permanent legislature.

After some delay, in October 2005 a two-thirds majority of voters ratified a new constitution, which had been created to replace the TAL by a 55-member panel representing the three main factions: Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis. Although some elements remained in dispute, the new charter embodied the same fundamental elements as the TAL, describing Iraq as a “multiethnic, multi-religious, and multi-sect country.”

In early 2006, a dispute among the factions over the post of prime minister delayed the formation of a permanent government. After the Shiite prime minister-designate, Ibrahim al Jafari, was unable to form a government, Nouri al Maliki, another leader of Jafari’s party, was chosen to replace him in May 2006. A full permanent government, with ministries divided among the major factions, was in place in June, avoiding a major crisis but still facing bitter divisions among the populace.

Aside from an enormous economic restoration process, major issues face the first permanent government. They include improving its own tenuous legitimacy in the view of the country’s factions, tightening porous borders, sharing oil revenues between the central government and the provinces (particularly those dominated by the Kurds), balancing strong central government with demands for regional sovereignty, and determining the role of Islamic law in government and jurisprudence.

Data as of August 2006

Last Updated: August 2006

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iraq was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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