Iraqi Government clearing hurdles!!!
Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis Reach Charter Deal
Jun 16, 5:14 PM (ET)
By HAMZA HENDAWI
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - In a political breakthrough, members of a Shiite-dominated committee drafting Iraq's new constitution reached a deal Thursday with Sunni Arab groups concerning their representation on the panel.
The agreement came after weeks of tough talks and just two months before a deadline for completing the new charter. The compromise, which could prove as significant as January's historic elections, was expected to yield a constitution acceptable to all Iraqis, anchoring America's efforts to help transform Iraq into a stable and functioning democracy.
The stalemate had threatened to torpedo Iraq's carefully choreographed political process, which enters its final stretch with two nationwide votes scheduled for later this year. It also heightened sectarian tensions at a time of marked escalation in a two-year insurgency waged by the fringes of the once-powerful Sunni Arab community.
Since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government was announced April 28, insurgents have killed nearly 1,100 people. On Thursday, a suicide car bomber slammed into a truck carrying Iraqi policemen near the Baghdad airport, killing at least eight and wounding 25.
The U.S. military also announced that six troops were killed the day before in bombing and shooting attacks in Ramadi, west of Baghdad. At least 1,714 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in 2003, according to an AP count.
Under Thursday's agreement, announced by two lawmakers involved in the negotiations, 15 Sunni Arabs would join the 55-member committee in a parallel body. That 55-member committee already includes two Sunni Arabs.
That group of 70 would make its decisions through consensus and then send those decisions to the 55 legislators for ratification.
The Sunni Arabs demanded 25 more representatives on the committee, but Shiite and Kurdish legislators would only agree to 13. The compromise gave the Sunni Arabs 17 seats, two more than the 15 held by the Kurds who, like the Sunni Arabs, account for up to 20 percent of Iraq's estimated 26 million people.
Significantly, it also revealed a newfound desire by the Sunni Arabs to rejoin the political fold. Their boycott of the January elections left them with only 17 of parliament's 275 seats. It also highlighted the realistic approach being followed by al-Jaafari's Shiite-dominated government on the question of political inclusion.
(AP) Female members of the Iraqi national assembly chat during a break of the Iraqi National Assembly... (I should have brought this picture. Iraqi women members of the Iraqi National Assembly...<smiles>
"I think the political process is continuing in a good way and it will be even better with the participation of the Sunni Arabs," Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, said after the compromise was announced.