Shi'ites Warn New Iraq
Law Will Lead to Problems
Tue Mar 9, 2004 10:29 AM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Shi'ite leaders warned on Tuesday that Iraq's new
constitution could cause problems in the long term, with one senior cleric
saying a clause on federalism had the potential to provoke civil war.
The U.S. appointed Governing Council signed the transitional law Monday
after long negotiations and two postponements, in a ceremony hailed by
Washington as a diplomatic victory and an important step toward a democratic
and sovereign government.
But almost immediately after signing, several Shi'ite leaders said they
were still unhappy with the law -- especially a clause they fear could give
minority Kurds too much leverage -- and would seek to introduce changes
further down the line.
The criticism continued Tuesday. One of Iraq's
foremost Shi'ite clerics, Ayatollah Mohammed Taqi al-Muddaresi, accused the
U.S.-led coalition of willfully including the clause which majority Shi'ites
see as a threat to their numeric dominance.
"The clause in the transitional law relating to
federalism is tantamount to a time bomb which could cause a civil war in
Iraq," he said in a statement.
Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani, whose objections to the constitution delayed its signing by
three days, refused to endorse the law Monday, saying it was an obstacle to
agreeing a permanent constitution next year.
Shi'ite politicians said they would respect the document they had signed,
which they described as a major achievement, but stressed they would find
ways in the future to undo the elements they were still unhappy with.
"We see grave flaws in this law and more must be done to deal with them
in future," Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a council member and head of the Supreme
Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a top Shi'ite party, said
"The law is a major achievement, and we don't want the political process
to stop... We will work to deal with the problems."
The main clause Shi'ites object to is one they fear will enable Kurds to
veto a permanent constitution to be written next year if it does not
enshrine their demands for autonomy.
A spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress said the party welcomed the
law, but that if Shi'ite concerns were not resolved, the transition to
democracy could reach a dead end.
Link to original story:
الدستور قنبلة موقوته ممكن أن تسبب حرباً أهلية في العراق