Iraqi leader signs law giving himself emergency powers

Measure allows Allawi to impose curfews, ban groups, order detentions

July 07, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Prime Minister Iyad Allawi signed into law yesterday broad martial powers that allow him to impose curfews anywhere in the country, ban groups he considers seditious and order the detentions of people suspected of being security risks.

Putting a law in place that permits him to establish emergency powers is one of the first official actions Allawi has taken against a tenacious insurgency and lays the groundwork for a forceful response to unrest.

His hard-line approach also emerged in his office's announcement yesterday that Iraqi forces provided the U.S. military with intelligence for an airstrike on what was described as a rebel safe house in Fallujah, in which at least 10 people were killed Monday evening.

Violence in Iraq continues, and at least five people were killed yesterday when a suicide bomber drove into a funeral service near Baqouba, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Some reports put the death toll as high as 13, with more than 30 wounded. The funeral was for two people killed the day before when gunmen attacked a municipal building in Baqouba.

Bombings in which civilians are killed and injured have outraged many Iraqis, and what may be a vivid sign of that anger emerged yesterday when a militant group issued a video threatening to kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who has claimed responsibility for many deadly attacks and beheadings of captives here.

The national safety law, to be announced today, allows the premier to declare emergency rule in any part of Iraq threatened by instability, Allawi said.

Skeptics say the Iraqi security forces, given their mass desertions during the uprising in April, lack the numbers, weapons and training to enforce emergency law. Allawi said the government is "beefing up these resources" and that "Iraqis should shoulder the responsibility, should be the people who enforce law and order in Iraq and against the terrorists."

A draft of the law stated that the prime minister has the right to "impose restrictions on the freedoms of citizens or foreigners in Iraq" in the event of a "dangerous threat" or "the occurrence of armed instability that threatens state institutions or its infrastructure."

Those restrictions include the curtailing or banning of travel, group meetings and the possession of weapons.

The prime minister also has the power to take direct control of all security and intelligence forces in the area under emergency rule.

The law imposes some restrictions on the emergency powers, including a series of court reviews. The prime minister can only impose emergency law for a specified duration and must get the approval of the president, the document says.

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