Iraq intends to approve constitution today

Iraqi lawmakers may today approve a new constitution even if leaders of the Sunni Muslim minority refuse to endorse the document, calling it illegal and saying it will divide the country along ethnic and religious lines.

The charter, formally submitted to the 275-strong National Assembly on Aug. 22, will replace the country's Transitional Administrative Law, which was put in place a year after the March 2003 U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein. said earlier, that members of the constitutional-drafting committee had since May to come up with a document that would unite Iraq and represent the interests of its 26 million people. They stumbled on issues including federalism, the division of natural resources such as oil, and the role of Islam in making laws.

The constitution is intended to pave the way for a general election by Dec. 31 and be the foundation for a government that the U.S. wants to take a greater role in battling a Sunni-led insurgency, easing pressure on the U.S. military, according to Bllomberg.

Kurds and Shiites swept the Jan. 30 ballot for a parliament and together hold the two-thirds majority required to push the document through without the approval of the Sunnis. That risks energizing militants and may delay the political process as Sunnis have the option of rejecting it in an Oct. 15 referendum, said Jonathan Lindley, head of the Middle East unit at the Royal United Services Institute, a research organization.

“A lack of consensus is likely to entrench the position of the hard line Sunni nationalists and strengthen their resolve to keep fighting,” Lindley said in an interview.

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