In 1988 there were eighteen governorates (alwiya, sing., liwa), each administered by a governor appointed by the president. Each governorate was divided into districts (aqdhiya, sing., qadha) headed by district officers (qaimaqamun; sing., qaimaqam); each district was divided into subdistricts (nawahy; sing., nahiyah) under the responsibility of subdistrict officers (mudara; sing., mudir). Mayors headed cities and towns. Municipalities were divided into several categories depending upon the size of local revenues. Baghdad, the national capital, had special administrative status. The mayor of Baghdad and the mayors of other cities were presidential appointees.
In 1971 President Bakr promulgated the National Action Charter, a broad statement of Baath Party political, economic, social, and foreign policy objectives. This document called for the formation of popular councils in all administrative subdivisions. These councils were to be given the right to supervise, to inspect, and to criticize the work of the government. The first councils were appointed in 1973 in accordance with a law promulgated by the RCC. As late as 1988, however, there was insufficient empirical research available to determine whether the popular councils were autonomous forums for the channeling of grievances or were merely Baath Party-dominated institutions used to encourage active popular support of, and involvement in, government-initiated activities.
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