Government (prior to 2003)
The Ba'ath Party rules Iraq through a nine-member RCC, which enacts legislation by decree. The RCC's president (chief of state and supreme commander or the armed forces) is elected by a two-thirds majority of the RCC. A Council of Ministers (cabinet), appointed by the RCC, has administrative and some legislative responsibilities.
A 250-member National Assembly consisting of 220 elected by popular vote who serve a 4- year term, and 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces, was last elected in March 2000. Iraq is divided into 18 provinces, each headed by a governor with extensive administrative powers.
Iraq's judicial system is based on the French model introduced during Ottoman rule and has three types of lower courts--civil, religious, and special. Special courts try broadly defined national security cases. An appellate court system and the court of cassation (court of last recourse) complete the judicial structure.