In a major achievement for the US in Iraq, the american-appointed Governing Council has unanimously approved an interim constitution for the country, at last providing the basis for America’s plans to transfer power to the Iraqis on June 30th of this year. The document will be valid until the end of 2005, by which time the Iraqis are scheduled to approve a permanent constitution.
America’s opponents tried until the very last minute to scuttle the agreement. Shortly before the signing of the document, a building in central Baghdad, situated one kilometer away from where the signing ceremony was taking place, was attacked by a barrage of missiles. So far there is no news of casualties.
“We have to put our country’s interests above all others,” said the president of the Provisional Council, Mohammed Baher al-Alum.
During the ceremony, the American Governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer, said that this was “an amazing achievement.”
Veto Rights for the Kurds
The approval of the interim constitution was made possible after Shiite representatives to the Governing Council yesterday expressed their willingness to sign the interim constitution without demanding changes. The Shiites withdrew their objections, which had held up the signing ceremony, following consultations with the Shiite spiritual leader in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Two days ago the signing ceremony was cancelled at the last minute due to Shiite opposition to the clause providing the Kurds with veto rights in the final constitution, when and if it is approved. The Shiite refusal to sign the agreement aroused the anger of other Council members. Both Sunni and Kurdish council members refused to alter the constitution, and some even accused the Shi’ites of an attempt to concentrate greater power in the hands of their majority community.