Last minute disputes delay signing of Iraq's interim constitution

Published March 5th, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

The signing of Iraq's interim constitution was delayed indefinitely Friday after five Shiite members of the Governing Council - in a last minute move - rejected the makeup of the presidency and concessions to Kurds.  


The council had agreed to the accord unanimously Monday. But Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, rejected provisions put into the text at the Kurds' request, said a source in the council, according to The AP.  


"The marja'iya (al-Sistani's office) will not accept it," the source added.  


It was not immediately known when the signing would take place.  


"There are some reservations. We are trying to sort the problems out now," said Hamed al-Bayati, an adviser in the Shiite Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the parties that refused to sign the charter.  


Al-Bayati conveyed the Shiites' concerns focused on clauses in the deal that the Kurds wanted to ensure that the eventual permanent constitution, to be put to a national referendum, does not encroach on their self-rule zone in the north.  


The clauses say that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces reject the permanent charter, it will not got into effect.  


Another cause of dispute was the makeup of the presidency. The draft that the Governing Council decided to set up a single president with two deputies.  


The council members that refused to sign were Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council, Ibrahim al-Jaafari of the Da'awa party and the current council president Shiite cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Ulloom. ( 

© 2004 Al Bawaba (

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