News / 

Shiites, Kurds Reach Agreement on Iraqi Constitution

Shiites, Kurds Reach Agreement on Iraqi Constitution

Save Story

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Hours before a midnight deadline, Shiites and Kurds reached an agreement Monday on a draft constitution and were trying to persuade Sunni Arabs to go along with their compromises, officials said.

Negotiators met for about three hours Monday morning and convened again shortly after 4 p.m. at the home of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in the Green Zone for talks Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said would "be decisive." He said there was some progress in the earlier session.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said an agreement had been reached between the Shiites and the Kurds in the morning.

Those groups were now trying to sell the deal to the Sunni Arabs in the afternoon session.

A Shiite television station quoted Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi as saying "major breakthroughs" had been made and that the draft would be submitted to parliament Monday.

Issues holding up agreement were believed to include federalism, the distribution of Iraq's oil wealth, power-sharing questions among the provinces and the role of the Shiite clerical hierarchy. It was unclear how those issues might have been resolved between Shiites and Kurds.

An initial Aug. 15 deadline was pushed back a week after no agreement was reached. Iraqi officials have insisted they would meet this second deadline and present a final document to the National Assembly, dominated by Shiites and Kurds.

Negotiators for all three communities -- Shiites, Kurds and minority Sunni Arabs -- met in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone for a new round of talks Monday. Shiite politician Khaled al-Attiyah said the political leaders "have tentatively agreed that the National Assembly would meet" Monday evening.

Parliament will either receive the draft of the new charter or vote on setting a new deadline. If it doesn't agree on either, the legislature will have to dissolve.

Earlier, a Kurdish member of the drafting committee, Abdul-Khaleq Zangana, had said there were problems with "the role of religion and women's rights." He would not elaborate but predicted "either an extension -- and this is not good -- or parliament dissolves -- and this is difficult."

Also before the end of the morning session, Shiite lawmaker Bahaa al-Araji accused the Kurds and secular allies of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi of trying to "curb the political process" to bring down the government and force new elections.

"If an agreement is not reached, we will hand a draft and win slight majority in a vote and this is our right," al-Araji said.

Sunni Arab negotiators had complained of being sidelined in the final week of talks and that Shiites and Kurds were cutting deals excluding them.

A Sunni backlash on the constitution could complicate the U.S. strategy of using the political process to lure members of the minority away from the Sunni-dominated insurgency. Washington hopes that a constitution, followed by general elections in December, will enable the United States and its international partners to begin removing troops next year.

Shiites and Kurds have enough seats in parliament to win approval for a draft without the Sunni Arabs. But the Sunni minority could scuttle the constitution when voters decide whether to ratify it in the Oct. 15 referendum. Under current rules, the constitution would be defeated if it is opposed by two-thirds of the voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces. Sunni Arabs form the majority in at least four.

On Sunday, Sunni representatives on the drafting committee appealed to the United States and United Nations to prevent Shiites and Kurds from pushing a draft through parliament without their consent, warning it would only worsen the crisis in Iraq.

Underscoring the crisis, much of the country lost electricity Monday after an attack on a major power line between Beiji and Baghdad last week. The power shortage forced a halt in oil exports from southern Iraq, because crude could not be pumped into tankers, Iraqi and foreign oil officials said.

Exports through the country's other export outlet in the north have been long interrupted due to sabotage on the pipeline and virtually all of Iraq's exports -- about 1.5 million barrels a day -- go through the southern ports.

In other developments:

--Eight policemen and three civilians died Monday when their bus was ambushed near the Taramiyah police station, just north of Baghdad, police Capt. Karim al-Selman said.

--Eight police commandos were killed in a car bombing at a checkpoint in Baghdad, police said.

--The U.S. military said Monday that two soldiers died when their vehicle overturned during a military operation near Tal Afar. At least 1,868 U.S. troops have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

--Four Iraqi policeman were killed when a suicide car bomb slammed into a police checkpoint in Baghdad, said Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman, the Interior Ministry spokesman.

--Police in Baghdad said they had found the bodies of six unidentified men in various parts of the capital. All were handcuffed, bound and shot in the head.

There has been speculation recently that vigilante death squads have been operating around Iraq. Some analysts warn the bloodshed demonstrates that the alternative to a constitutional power-sharing deal would be a gradual descent into civil war.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast