August 25, 2005

Iraqi Draft Constitution - Sunni Displeasure

The draft Iraqi constitution was accepted by the National Assembly on Monday. Although a vote was scheduled for August 25, it has been further deferred. There may be a vote on August 29, however, some Shi'a delegates insist no vote is necessary.

Sunni opposition remains adamant against the draft in its current form. President Jalal Talabani is trying to bring the Sunnis into consensus agreement, but it appears that he has not been successful thus far.

What are the provisions that upset the Sunnis? Primarily, they focus on the diminution of central power in favor of regions and provinces, including distribution of oil revenues.

Here are some specific examples.

Article (7):
1st - Entities or trends that advocate, instigate, justify or propagate racism, terrorism, takfir (declaring someone an infidel), sectarian/ethnic cleansing, are banned, especially the Saddam Ba'th Party in Iraq and its symbols, under any name. It will be not be allowed to be part of the multilateral political system in Iraq, which should be defined according to the law.

Article (9):
1st - (b) Forming military militias outside the framework of the armed forces is banned.

Article (63):
1st - A legislative council called the "Council of Union" will be established and will include representatives of regions and provinces to examine bills related to regions and provinces.

Article (110):
1st - The federal government will administer oil and gas extracted from current fields in cooperation with the governments of the producing regions and provinces on condition that the revenues will be distributed fairly in a manner compatible with the demographical distribution all over the country. A quota should be defined for a specified time for affected regions that were deprived in an unfair way by the former regime or later on, in a way to ensure balanced development in different parts of the country. This should be regulated by law.
2nd - The federal government and the governments of the producing regions and provinces together will draw up the necessary strategic policies to develop oil and gas wealth to bring the greatest benefit for the Iraqi people, relying on the most modern techniques of market principles and encouraging investment.

Article (111): All that is not written in the exclusive powers of the federal authorities is in the authority of the regions. In other powers shared between the federal government and the regions, the priority will be given to the region's law in case of dispute.

Article (112): The following duties will be shared by the federal and regional authorities:
1st - administering and organizing customs, in coordination with the regional government, and this will be regulated by law.
2nd - organizing and distributing the main electrical power resources.
3rd - drawing up environmental policy to guarantee the protection of the environment from pollution and the preservation of its cleanliness, in cooperation with the regions.
4th - drawing up general planning and development policies.
5th - drawing up general health policy, in cooperation with the regions.

6th - drawing up general education and childrearing policy, in consultation with the regions.

Article (113): The federal system in the republic of Iraq is made up of the capital, regions, decentralized provinces, and local administrations.

Article (114):
1st - The regions comprise one province or more, and two regions or more have the right to join into one region.
2nd - One province or more have the right to form a region, based on a request for a referendum, which can be presented in one of two ways: ....

Article (115): The authorities of each region include legislative, executive and judicial authorities.

Article (116):
1st - The governments of regions have the right to practice legislative, executive and judicial powers according to this constitution, except in what is listed as exclusive powers of the federal authorities.
2nd - The regional authority has the right to amend the implementation of the federal law in the region in the case of a contradiction between the federal and regional laws in matters that do not pertain to the exclusive powers of the federal authorities.
3rd - It is permissible to delegate the authorities practiced by the federal government to the regional governments and vice versa, with the approval of both.

4th - A fair share of the revenues collected federally is designated to regions, in a way that suffices their duties and obligations, taking into consideration the (region's) resources and needs.
5th - Offices for regions and provinces are to be established in embassies and diplomatic missions to follow up on cultural, social and local development affairs.

(Note: The entire chapter devoted to the regions and provinces is likely unacceptable to the Sunnis.)

Article (150): Laws legislated in Kurdistan since 1992 remain in effect, and decisions made by the government of the Kurdistan region - including contracts and court decisions - are effective unless they are voided or amended according to the laws of the Kurdistan region by the concerned body, as long as they are not against the constitution.