The committee drafting Iraq’s new constitution has decided not to give itself more time. It ruled out any delay afer Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad the deadline of August 15 would be met. The document is due to be presented to parliament on that date.
Some Shi’ite members of the 71-member committee had said they wanted between two weeks and a month more. Meanwhile Iraq’s interior ministry has started preparing special forces to help protect a referendum on the constitution, scheduled for October. New figures show that about 4,000 thousand Iraqis have been killed in attacks this year alone, more than half of them civilians. The US sees the constitution as vital to encouraging Sunni Arabs to back the political process rather than the insurgency. Press reports suggest Washington is planning to reduced its troop presence from 140,000 to 80,000 by the middle of next year.