The President and the Council of Ministers
The president is the chief executive authority of the country. He may exercise authority directly or through the Council of Ministers, the cabinet. He must be a native-born Iraqi. The Constitution does not stipulate the president's term of office, nor does it provide for his successor. President Bakr served for eleven years before retiring for health reasons in 1979. He was succeeded by Saddam Husayn, the former vice chairman of the RCC, who continued to hold the office of president in early 1988.
The position of vice-chairman, rather than the office of vice-president, appeared to be the second most powerful political one. The vice-presidency appeared to be a largely ceremonial post, and the vice-president seemed to be appointed or dismissed solely at the discretion of the president. In 1988 the vicepresident was Taha Muhy ad Din Maruf, who was first appointed by Bakr in 1974, and was subsequently kept in office by Saddam Husayn. The vice-chairman of the RCC, who would presumably succeed Saddam Husayn, was Izzat Ibrahim.
The Council of Ministers is the presidential executive arm. Presidential policies are discussed and translated into specific programs through the council. The council's activities are closely monitored by the diwan, or secretariat of the presidency. The head of the diwan is a cabinet-rank official, and his assistants and support staff are special appointees. The members of the diwan are not subject to the regulations of the Public Service Council, the body which supervises all civil service matters.
Cabinet sessions are convened and presided over by the president. Some senior members of the RCC are represented on the cabinet. By convention, about one-third of the cabinet positions may be reserved for members of the Baath Party. In early 1988, the cabinet consisted of forty-one members including president Saddam Husayn and vice-president Maruf. Ministerial portfolios included those for agriculture and agrarian reform, communications, culture and arts, defense, education, finance, foreign affairs, health, higher education and scientific research, industry and minerals, information, interior, irrigation, justice, labor and social affairs, oil, planning, public works and housing, religious trusts, trade, and transport. Additionally, there were seven ministers of state and seven presidential advisers with ministerial status. Of the cabinet members, the president and the minister of defense, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of interior, and the minister of trade were also members of the powerful RCC.
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