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lucky wilbury
03-01-2004, 03:12 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=540&u=/ap/20040301/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_2&printer=1

Iraqis Said to OK Interim Constitution
2 hours, 43 minutes ago

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi politicians agreed on the draft of an interim constitution early Monday, reaching a compromise on the role of Islam and putting off the details of Kurdish autonomy, an Iraqi official said. The charter will likely be signed Wednesday.

Members of the Iraqi Governing Council, with U.S. administrators mediating, ended a second late night of negotiations at 4:20 a.m. with "full agreement ... on each article," said Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for Shiite Muslim council member Ahmad Chalabi.

The interim charter, officially the Transitional Administrative Law, will remain in effect until a permanent constitution is drafted and ratified next year. It underlines that the rights of all Iraqi citizens will be respected and sets aside for women 25 percent of the seats in the provisional legislature, Qanbar said.

According to Qanbar, the interim constitution charter will recognize Islam as a major source of legislation and ban any laws which violate the tenets of the Muslim faith. U.S. officials and secular-minded members got their way with the phrase "a source" out of many sources but the ban on laws that violate Islam was aimed at pleasing conservatives.

U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer had hinted he would veto conservatives' phrasing setting Islamic law as "the" main basis of law, which some feared would create an Islamic state and restrict women's rights.

The interim charter affirmed the principle of federalism but left details of how this would be implemented particularly in areas where ethnic Kurds enjoy self-rule to a future elected government.

There was no comment from Kurdish and hardline Muslim members of the Iraqi Governing Council. However, if they accepted the language, that would remove a major hurdle on the path to a new sovereign Iraqi government taking power on schedule June 30.

About eight of the council's 13 Shiite members stormed out of a meeting on the constitution late Friday in a dispute over Islamic law and the women's rights.

The walkout was prompted by a vote to cancel a resolution that would have made Islamic law the basis for issues like divorce and inheritance. The resolution, pushed through the Governing Council by hard-liners in December, angered many women who feared their rights would be restricted.

The document will likely be signed Wednesday, after the Shiite Muslim religious holiday of Ashoura ends, said Qanbar, of the Iraqi National Congress. Bremer must then sign the document.

"There was an agreement among all council members that Iraq (news - web sites) will not be an Islamic state," Qanbar said. "The language was put in a way not to offend the Islamic identity of most of the people but nor to offend the other side and give the impression that it's an Islamic state."

The deal came two days after a deadline for finishing the document a key part of the U.S. plan for handing over power to the Iraqis on June 30. Saturday's deadline had been set by the Americans and agreed to by the Governing Council in November. When it passed with the council still deeply divided, Bremer helped organize marathon talks.

The members, however, appeared to have been unable to agree on the terms and size of the Kurdish self-rule region in the north. Kurdish leaders had demanded the right to keep their peshmerga militia as a distinct armed force and to control oil and other resources in their region. They also sought to add districts to the autonomous area.

Qanbar said the final version accepts the principle of federalism throughout Iraq and allows the current Kurdish autonomy government to continue "under a united Iraq."

But it leaves it up to a future elected national assembly to decide the details of self-rule for the Kurdish minority, Qanbar said. Shiites, who dominate southern Iraq, insisted that if the Kurds had the right to self-rule in their northern strongholds, Shiites should enjoy the same privilege in areas of the south where they predominate.

"The atmosphere was very constructive," he said of the long negotiations. "Alternative language and creative ways were brought to the table to come out with consensus on each issue."

John Ashcroft
03-01-2004, 09:23 AM
Nothing to see here! Nothing to see here! Let's move on people...