BAGHDAD - Iraq's temporary constitution will take effect from July 1 and last until a permanent charter is drawn up by a new parliament to be directly elected by the people before the end of January 2005, officials said.
The US-picked interim Governing Council will hold an official signing ceremony on Wednesday after the Ashura Shiite Muslim holiday. US overseer in Iraq Paul Bremer is then due to rubber-stamp the "Fundamental Law".
Comprising some 64 articles split into nine chapters, the basic law will take effect after the US-led coalition hands back sovereignty to a caretaker Iraqi government on June 30.
The basic points in an English-language version of the draft document are:
PREAMBLE - The temporary constitution strives to reclaim the Iraqi people's freedom "which was usurped by the previous tyrannical regime."
ROLE OF ISLAM - Article 7 states: "Islam is the official religion of the state and is to be considered a source of legislation.
"This law shall respect the Islamic identity of the majority of the people of Iraq, but guarantees the complete freedom of all religions and their religious practices."
PRESIDENCY - Iraq will have one president and two vice presidents. The selection of the president depends on whether Iraq becomes a parliamentary or presidential state, which has yet to be decided, a council member said.
FEMALE REPRESENTATION - The representation of women in Iraq's new political bodies is targeted at a minimum of 25 percent.
FEDERAL IRAQ - On a dispute over setting up a federal state, Kurdistan will retain its federal status and the rest of Iraq will be given the right to prepare to form states.
LANGUAGE - Arabic and Kurdish are described as the two official languages, while all other minorities have the right to use their own language in education.
DIRECT ELECTIONS - A body, yet to be decided, will take back sovereignty from the US-led coalition on June 30 and prepare for direct elections for a transitional national assembly "if possible, before December 31, 2004 and, in any case, no later than January 31, 2005."
How this post-June 30 body is chosen will be decided in the next couple of months, taking into account future recommendations by the United Nations, a senior coalition official said.
PERMANENT ASSEMBLY - The transitional national assembly will draw up a permanent constitution by August 15, 2005, which will be put to a national referendum by no later than October 15, 2005.
If this timeframe is maintained, another general election will take place by December 15, 2005.