Thousands of Sunnis took to the streets on Monday outside the home of former leader Saddam Hussein to protest against the current draft of the nation's constitution.
The text calls for a fully federal Iraq with autonomous regions in Arab as well as Kurdish regions, which Sunni groups do not endorse. Sunni elite, considered the driving force behind current resistance forces in Iraq, will most likely work to defeat the draft in the upcoming October 15 referendum on the constitution.
According to the AFP, in the Sunni town of Fallujah residents were already registering for the referendum in en masse in attempt to defeat the draft. "No, No, To The Constitution -- Yes, Yes To A United Iraq," read one banner.
October's referendum could mean the failure of the constitution if it is rejected by two-thirds of voters in three provinces. Such rejection would mean the dissolution of the current parliament and the election of a new legislature.
The development is undoubtedly a concern for US officials, who fear that widespread Sunni disapproval of the constitution could derail the so called democratization process the US has been hoping for and an increase in violence. Implementing an Iraqi constitution, therefore, is seen as a crucial goal for the US before its forces can be withdrawn from Iraq.
But US president Bush minimized the developments, saying differences were inevitable in a democracy. "This is a document of which the Iraqis, and the rest of the world, can be proud," he said.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani also implied that he was unfazed by the possibility of defeat in the referendum. "If the nation rejects it, we will write another one," he said.
Meanwhile on Monday, two people were killed by mortar rounds fired at Baghdad's oil ministry. Elsewhere, gunmen shot and killed Brig. Gen. Numan Salman Faris, director of the district rapid response force in Baghdad's Azamiyah district.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )