Iraqi Panel Asks for Delay on Constitution
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 16
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The committee writing the new Iraqi
constitution decided Sunday to ask parliament for a
30-day extension to finish the draft, members said.
The decision marks a setback to U.S. efforts to
maintain political momentum to combat the insurgency.
The formal request will be submitted to parliament
Monday, committee members said.
Under the original deadline, the National Assembly had
until Aug. 15 to approve the charter and submit it to
a national referendum in mid-October. That formula was
strongly supported by the Americans. But major
differences remain among the ethnic and religious
groups represented on the committee.
Before the meeting on Sunday, the committee chairman,
Humam Hammoudi, said he would recommend a 30-day
extension. After the meeting, one of the framers,
Bahaa al-Araji, said the recommendation had been
Al-Araji said Kurdish delegates wanted a six-month
delay but the Shiites and Sunni Arabs decided to ask
for 30 more days.
The United States had mounted considerable pressure on
the Iraqis to meet the Aug. 15 deadline. U.S.
officials believe momentum in the political process is
essential to luring away Sunni Arabs from the
insurgency so American and other foreign troops can
begin withdrawing next year.
The main points in dispute include such issues as
federalism, dual nationality and the role of Islam.
The violence continued Sunday when a car bomb exploded
south of Baghdad, killing five civilians and wounding
10, including two policemen. The bomb targeted a
police vehicle as it was passing on a main road near
the town of Haswa, 30 miles south of Baghdad, said
police Capt. Muthanna Khaled Ali.
Five U.S. soldiers were also killed by roadside bombs
in two separate incidents in Baghdad, the U.S.
military said Sunday.
In the first attack Saturday around 1:40 p.m., a
patrol hit a roadside bomb in the southern Dora
neighborhood, killing a soldier from Task Force
Baghdad, a statement said. Two others were wounded in
that incident. Later that evening, around 11 p.m.,
four Task Force Baghdad soldiers were killed when a
roadside bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad.
Roadside bombs killed two British contractors as well
on Saturday in southern
Iraq and at least seven people in the capital. The
Britons, who worked for the security firm Control
Risks Group, were guarding a British consulate convoy
in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles
southeast of Baghdad. Two Iraqi children were wounded
when a second device exploded five minutes later,
Britain has some 8,500 troops in Iraq, mostly in the
south. Its military headquarters is based in Basra,
where Britain also has a consulate general's office.