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933Iraqi Panel Asks for Delay on Constitution

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  • Greg Cannon
    Jul 31 6:25 AM

      Iraqi Panel Asks for Delay on Constitution

      By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer 16
      minutes ago

      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,
      police said.

      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.