Draft constitution pushed into Iraqi parliament

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A draft of Iraq's proposed constitution has entered parliament, despite warnings from Sunni Arabs that it could begin a civil war. The vote however, has been delayed three more days to try to win the support of the Sunni minority.

Signs indicate little chance of a resolution to the Sunni opposition, however. "If it passes, there will be an uprising in the streets," Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni negotiator working on the constitution said. Another negotiator, Soha Allawi, said, "We will campaign ... to tell both Sunnis and Shi'ites to reject the constitution, which has elements that will lead to the break-up of Iraq and civil war."

Sunnis are concerned over sections of the constitution that create large "federal" regions in the north and the south under Shi'ite and Kurdish control. Sunni negotiators are demanding that all "federalism" be left out. Kurds have pressed for the provisions on federalism, as Kurdish negotiators have sought to retain, largely, their current autonomy in the north.

Other concerns which prevent Sunni support of the draft constitution center on the emphasis given to Islam as a "main source of law" -- a compromise between Islamist and secular Shi'ites and Kurds.