America will continue its unilateral approach towards Iraq once it removes President Saddam Hussein, by ruling the country for an undetermined time through a military administration. A US-led coalition will take a central role in providing humanitarian aid and helping with reconstruction work, reducing the United Nations to accepting an undetermined, minor role. The State Department yesterday confirmed to the South China Morning Post the establishment of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance for Post-war Iraq. Based for now in Kuwait, staff were already in place under the directorship of retired general Jay Garner. The department would not name appointees other than General Garner, but a source said career diplomat Barbara Bodine had been appointed to head the civil administration portfolio. Ms Bodine, 54, a former US ambassador to Yemen who began her career at the US consul-general in Hong Kong, would effectively be in charge of planning for the interim civilian administration and election process expected to follow US military rule. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington on Wednesday that the UN would not play a key role in the post-war strategy. 'We would not support an effort . . . handing everything over to the UN or for someone designated by the UN to suddenly become in charge of this whole operation,' he told a House of Representatives committee. Observers said the UN, whose authority was ignored by US President George W. Bush's declaration of war against Iraq, would most likely be asked to take a peacekeeping role. Countries at loggerheads with the US over its decision - France, Germany and Russia among them - were expected to offer humanitarian or financial assistance, but whether their offers would be accepted was up to the US, they said. Instead, the backbone of help will come from 45 countries named among the 'coalition of the willing'. They include the US' chief ally, Britain, and Australia - which have given troops for the war - and Japan. Singapore, the Philippines, Bulgaria and Spain are among others. Critics fear the military will fail to restore power to an interim Iraqi administration in a timely manner. Some insiders said this week they expected duties to be handed over before September. No official details of such an administration have been given, although it seems likely the core will come from the dozens of exiled opposition political groups based in the Gulf, Europe and the US and that the president or prime minister will be from the majority Sunni group. In prepared testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 11, Under Secretary of Defence Douglas Feith said the US would approach its post-war work with 'a commitment to stay and a commitment to leave'. The US would stay in Iraq long enough to achieve the liberation of its people, the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the elimination of any terrorist infrastructure, the safeguarding of its territorial integrity and the start of political and economic reconstruction. 'But it is important to stress also that the US would have a commitment to leave as soon as possible, for Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people,' Mr Feith said. American media reports predicted Iraq could be split into a central, southern and northern zone with administrators appointed to each. The State Department's statement revealed that the military had instead opted for administrative division by areas of concern. It said the most immediate goals were meeting the humanitarian needs of Iraqis, stabilising the post-conflict environment, re-establishing civilian services and beginning the process of rapid transition to Iraqi control. The State Department said the civil administration section would rely on existing Iraqi ministries and infrastructure wherever possible to carry out its work. 'Iraqi expatriates, bringing technical skills from outside Iraq as well as experience in democratic societies, will have an important role in advising the coalition, especially concerning the establishment of a constitution and a new representative government,' a department spokesperson said.