The NYT reports that there have been “only slightly revised language” on provisions in the draft Iraqi constitution for creating regions. An earlier story by Dexter Filkins in the print late edition (via Lexis Nexis, no link) offers slightly more detail:
In its latest draft, the constitution defers details about federal regions within Iraq to be decided by the next National Assembly, scheduled to be elected on Dec. 15.
This could be closer to the language of the TAL that required NA approval rather than just leaving it to provincial assemblies and referenda to determine who sets up a region. However, without the TAL’s safeguards limiting the number of existing provinces that can form a single region, Sunni negotiators are right to say that this late concession in the draft is largely meaningless. That is beacuse Shiites are sure to have a majority in the next Assembly, as they have in this one, making NA approval a largely foregone conclusion.
The LA Times print edition story that I cited in an earlier post today says that another sticking point has been that Sunnis want the presidency to be stronger than in the current draft. Now this is odd. Assuming we are talking about a single-person presidency, the Sunnis have little chance of electing one of their own any time soon, so a weak president (possibly elected by parliament or an electoral college that includes provincial council delegates) would seem to be in their interests. The only thing I can think of is maybe they figure there will be rival candidates in the Shiite community and thus Sunni votes can matter in who is elected, whereas their elected representatives are unlikely to comprise any part of the parliamentary majority that will sutain the prime minister and cabinet in office. Still, a strong presidency could be quite risky for them.
Meanwhile, AP reports (via Lexis-Nexis, so no link) that the amendments that were considered but not agreed to immediately prior to the decision to submit the draft to the National Assembly also included:
–Removing the word ‘party’ from the phrase about the Baath party’s illegality;
–Allowing the next parliament to decide how to organize the committee set up to purge Baathists from government.
On the first of these two points, the NYT print article referenced above says that the revised language supposedly makes clear that the provision is aimed at “Saddamist” Baathists, and not all of them. But Sunnis, it says, are not happy with that, given that most of them were Baathists and they fear the drafting changes are just a way of “papering over a plan to drive former Baathists out of public life.”