2005/10/10

Iraqi Constitution

On 28 August, the new Iraqi constitution was approved after having been delayed twice. In a very bad sign for national unity, the BBC pointed out that:

All 15 of the Sunni representatives on the negotiating committee stayed away from Sunday's signing ceremony, refusing to be associated with a document they regard with deep suspicion.

The BBC article claimed that the Shiites of Iraq wanted to: "sweep away the remnants of the old regime." and to esssentially break up the country into three pieces, both ideas of which were and are vehemently opposed by the Sunnis. And now, with

One week before Iraqis vote on a constitution intended to remake their nation, U.S. and Arab diplomats are scrambling to broker last-minute concessions from Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish faction leaders that would persuade the Sunni Arab minority to drop its opposition to the proposed charter and defuse the country's Sunni-led insurgency.

As DailyKos points out, it's kinda late to be doing this. The whole constitutional project was done with an eye to American domestic political considerations, not towards anything in Iraq. Granted, it only took from May to September 1787 to write the American Constitution and several issues, notably slavery, were left to future generations to resolve. The "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period" started the clock for working out the Iraqi Constitution on 28 June 2004 to be completed by 15 August 2005. Nevertheless, several liberals complained that the process appered to be rushed and, sure enough the last-minute changes strongly indicate that the process was indeed seriously rushed. Juan Cole points that if the Costitution is rejected

...the Shiite majority will feel very, very cheated. They feel that since they won the Jan. 30 elections, they have a right to the constitution they want, and there is a danger of them becoming disillusioned altogether with democracy if the will of the majority is thwarted on this issue.

Earlier, he reported that:

Samawah in the southern Shiite province of Muthanna [was said by] the local population of some 500,000 [to be more] interested in electricity and clean water than in the constitutional referendum.

Sounds like a real mess to me.

UPDATE:
"Iraq's electoral commission said Monday that it would delay announcing the results of the nation's constitutional referendum because of possible voting irregularities. In at least six provinces, the turnout to vote on the measure appears to have topped 95 percent, said Izzadin al-Mohammadi, a senior commission official."

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