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Iraqis Reach Deal on the Constitution

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051011/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq;_ylt=Au7Phe1KUqkdAznX_j2D0hT9xg8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE- Iraqis Reach Deal on the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2005

      Iraqis Reach Deal on the Constitution

      15 minutes ago

      BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi negotiators reached a
      breakthrough deal on the constitution Tuesday and at
      least one Sunni Arab party said it would now urge its
      followers to approve the charter in this weekend's

      Under the deal, the two sides agreed that a commission
      would be set up to consider amendments to the charter
      that would then be put to a vote in parliament and
      then submitted to a new referendum next year.

      The agreement would allow the Sunnis to try to amend
      the constitution to reduce the autonomous powers that
      Shiites and Kurds would have under the federal system
      created by the charter, negotiators said.

      It boosts the chances for a constitution that Shiite
      and Kurdish leaders support and the United States has
      been eager to see approved in Saturday's vote to avert
      months more of political turmoil, delaying plans to
      start a withdrawal of U.S. forces.

      The draft constitution has already been printed by the
      United Nations and millions of copies are being
      distributed to the public for Saturday's vote, so the
      new additions cannot be included. Instead they will be
      announced in the media, particularly on television,
      since many Iraqis are watching popular holiday
      programming during the current Islamic holy month of
      Ramadan, al-Dabagh said.

      U.S. officials have pushed the three days of
      negotiations between Shiite and Kurdish leaders in the
      government and Sunni Arab officials, that concluded
      with marathon talks at the house of President Jalal
      Talabani late Tuesday.

      A top Sunni negotiator, Ayad al-Samarraie of the Iraqi
      Islamic Party, said the measure would allow it to
      "stop the campaign rejecting the constitution and we
      will call on Sunni Arabs to vote yes." It was unclear
      if parliament would take a formal vote on the new deal
      with some lawmakers saying that measure may be read to
      the National Assembly on Wednesday.

      Some other major Sunni parties were not present at the
      negotiations and it was not clear if they too would be
      willing to reverse their "no" campaigns.

      The Sunni-led insurgents have demanded a boycott of
      the election and threatened those who would vote.

      The announcement was the first break in the ranks of
      Sunni Arab leaders, who have been campaigning hard to
      defeat the constitution at the polls.

      Ali al-Dabagh, a Shiite negotiator, said the sides
      agreed on four additions to the constitution that will
      be voted on Saturday that will allow for future

      The central addition allows the next parliament, which
      will be formed in Dec. 15 elections, to form the
      commission that will have four months to consider
      changes to the constitution. The changes would be
      approved by the entire parliament, then a referendum
      would be held two months later.

      Sunni Arabs are hoping to have a stronger
      representation in the next parliament and want to make
      major amendments to the constitution, particularly to
      water down the provisions for federalism, which
      Shiites and Kurds strongly support.

      The other additions include a statement stressing
      Iraqi unity and another states that the Arabic
      language should be used in the Kurdistan region, along
      with Kurdish — issues important to the Sunni Arabs.
      The fourth underlines that former members of
      Saddam Hussein's ousted, Sunni-led Baath Party will
      only be prosecuted if they committed crimes.

      Some moderate Sunni leaders once had positions in the
      Baath Party and fear being barred from politics by the
      De-Baathification process outlined in the

      "The leaders of the political blocs have approved
      these additions and amendments and tomorrow they will
      be announced (read) to the national assembly,"
      al-Dabagh said.
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