The final text of Iraq’s draft constitution is going to the country’s parliament for approval despite Sunni objections. It is reported that an overwhelming majority of members of the committee in charge of writing the charter signed it. However Sunni negotiators have refused to budge on several key issues. They want Islam to be recognised as the main source of law in Iraq. They are also against a proposed ban on former Baath party members from public life.
But the biggest stumbling block is federalism. The Sunni minority is worried giving broad autonomy to Kurds and Shi’ites would deprive it of oil revenues and could lead to the country’s division. Commentators say the Sunnis have lost this particular battle but that they will live to fight another day – when the people vote on the charter in a referendum in October.
Radical Shi’ites share many Sunnis’ view that the constitution has been cooked up in an American kitchen, not in an Iraqi one. There are fears that, instead of healing divisions, the text could deepen sectarian tensions in the next few months. The United States has been closely involved in the talks, hoping a deal will sap the insurgency against Iraqi and coalition forces.