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Monday, August 15, 2005

Deadlock or not a deadlock?

Posted by: Hammer / 2:26 PM

The going got tough and the tough punted. The committee drafting the new Iraqi constitution couldn't resolve two issues, so they have punted everything back to the general assembly:

Iraqi leaders today signed a draft constitution but left two unspecified issues to be resolved later by the full parliament, two Shia officials said tonight.

Nasar al-Rubaie, a member of the committee drafting the document, said it would be handed over to the national assembly for a decision later tonight on the two unresolved issues.

A couple important points. One, at the start, the committee intended to produce a consensus constitution. Obviously, no consensus has been reached. Two, the Sunnis are underrepresented in the national assembly. The Sunnis were underrepresented in the committee drafting the constitution, but over a dozen Sunnis representatives were added to the committee to rectify that. Three, the Sunnis can veto the constitution if 2/3 of the voters in 3 of the 4 Sunni-majority provinces vote to reject the constitution (Absent 2/3 opposition in 3 provinces, the constitution becomes permanent if it receives 50% of the total vote: Article 61(c).). If the Sunnis veto the constitution, a new national assembly will be elected to try the process over again.

It looks like the Shia and the Kurds are willing to ram through a constitution to their liking, regardless of Sunni objections. This is, undoubtedly, a popular position in an Iraq long dominated by a repressive Sunni regime.

No new news from Juan Cole yet. Be sure to check back there -- and here -- for more news as it develops.


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