A deal has been reached in principle on the Iraqi constitution – but no ink has been put to paper. Negotiators for the country’s Shi’ite majority say an accord has been reached and will be submitted to parliament for approval in the next two days.
But Sunni factions have yet to give a definite acceptance. They have made pessimistic noises about the chances of an agreement over the last week. Sunnis have been holding demonstrations over the draft constitution. They worry that giving Kurds and Shi’ites broad federal autonomy will deprive them of oil revenues and could lead to the country’s division. Radical Shi’ites loyal to the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, an opponent of the US-backed government, have also shown their hostility to the charter. Meanwhile the US has announced it has released 1,000 inmates from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Authorities say they were not guilty of serious crimes. Analysts believe the move is intended to improve the climate for the talks on the constitution but Washington has not commented on that.