The handover of sovereignty to the government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi begins a process that's to result in general elections by the end of next year. These are the key steps scheduled to take place.
_Now: A preparatory committee is issuing invitations to 1,000 Iraqis who will represent a cross-section of Iraq's social, political, ethnic and religious groups at a national convention. The convention will select an interim national assembly. The assembly is to be made up of 100 people, 20 of whom will be former members of the Iraqi Governing Council, the U.S.-appointed body that served during much of the American occupation.
_Early January 2005: National elections, to be supervised by the interim national assembly, are to be held to select a parliament. Members of the parliament will oversee the drafting of a constitution, which must go to a national referendum. After the parliament is elected, the interim national assembly will be dissolved.
_Late 2005: Once the constitution sets forth election law and a census has been conducted, Iraqis will cast their ballots in general elections, selecting a new government.
(c) 2004, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.