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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Minor issues, technicalities really

Posted by: Hammer / 3:06 PM

The clock is ticking in Iraq. We are six days away from the deadline for a draft of the new constitution:

Iraq's political leaders are due to resume marathon talks today to try to resolve outstanding disagreements over a nascent constitution just six days before the deadline.

Arab Sunnis are expected to meet members of the ruling Shia and Kurdish coalition at the Baghdad residence of President Jalal Talabani for what is being billed as the final stage of negotiations.

With six days to go, they must have most of the major issues sorted out, right? Not quite:

[P]rofound and thorny issues such as federalism, the role of Islam and the status of the city of Kirkuk remain unresolved, deepening the sense of urgency among participants.

Of course, had bloggers been around in the 18th century, we all would've been criticizing the constitutional convention for taking so damn long, too.

Here's a good report to guide you through the process. By August 15, the national assembly must approve a draft constitution. The constitution is to be debated between mortar rounds until a national referendum on October 15. According to the CRS report "two-thirds of the voters in any three Iraqi provinces may veto the constitution, essentially given the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites a veto". I don't exactly what this means. There are 18 provinces in Iraq. If 2/3 of the voters in a total of 3 of the 18 provinces vote against the constitution, it's dead?

If the constitutional referendum fails, then a new national assembly will be elected on December 15. The new national assembly will try to draft a new constitution for a new referendum.

This is a damn exciting time for Iraq. There's an outside shot they'll have a functioning government in 2006. Of course, just when I get excited about Iraq turning a corner, I read this:

A second day of rioting yesterday in the city of Samawa, a southern Shia stronghold, underlined the state's fragility. Hundreds of protesters demanding basic services such as electricity and clean water have clashed with police, leaving dozens wounded and at least one dead.

Rioting in Shia cities? Time to check in with Juan Cole:

The Sadr Movement of Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr has been holding the demonstrations [in Samawa] to protest lack of services. This tactic seems to be a way of unseating the elected government officials in key southern provinces, and of embarrassing the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Sadrists' rival, which controls most provincial assemblies in the south after winning the elections last January. But it is also true that the services in these cities are not very good, in part because of sabotage.

Cole also notes that the governor has been fired after two days of protests.


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