Iraq parties struggling over new constitution

 

Iraqi lawmakers are struggling to avert a political crisis today and meet a midnight deadline for presenting the draft of a new constitution to parliament.

Political leaders and the 71 members of the constitutional drafting committee went into the talks over the charter with still no agreement on at least two fundamental issues - federal autonomy and the role of Islam in the state.

A seamster measures cloth to fill orders for Iraq national flags at his shop in Baghdad today
A seamster measures cloth to fill orders for Iraq national flags at his shop in Baghdad today

Hussain al-Shahristani, the deputy speaker of parliament, said talks would continue until midday at which point a decision would have to be taken on whether to present a draft to parliament or whether to look at more dramatic options.

A special evening session of parliament has been scheduled for 6pm to consider the document.

Last year's interim charter, known as the TAL, laid down August 15th as the deadline for completing a draft of the new constitution, which must be voted on in an October referendum.

"The first option is that everyone agrees on a draft of the constitution and it is presented to the National Assembly for approval on time," Mr Shahristani said.

Another possibility, he said, was for the National Assembly to vote and if agreed by three quarters of the house amend the TAL to allow more time to draft the new constitution.

Such a move could prove an embarrassment for Washington which has put pressure on Iraqi leaders to meet the self-imposed deadline.