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.
Data as of May 1988