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Iraqi constitution deadline approaches, but agreement elusive

[JURIST] Iraqi political leaders and lawmakers met again Sunday amid conflicting reports about the likelihood that the Iraqi constitutional committee [official website] would complete a draft of the new Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] before the August 15 deadline. On Saturday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani indicated [JURIST report] that the committee had reached tentative agreements on certain issues, but the key issues of federalism and the role of Islam in Iraqi law remained unresolved. US diplomats and officials have been urging the process forward in light of the perceived link between a permanent constitutional structure, a stable governmental and security environment and any eventual America withdrawal, but legislator Jawad al-Maliki has told reporters the committee was prepared to consider an amendment to extend the submission deadline by two weeks if a draft is not completed before tomorrow. Meanwhile, the speaker of Iraq's parliament has tentatively scheduled a meeting of the National Assembly [Reuters report] for 6 PM local time Monday to consider any draft received. AP has more.

9:03 PM ET - Sunni negotiators said late Sunday that they had asked for postponement of the divisive federalism issue for a year to allow the rest of the document to go forward. Fearing Kurdish and Shiite separatism in the north and south sparked by the any constitutional recognition of Kurdish and Shiite regional entities, Sunnis are opposed [JURIST report] to a federal Iraqi state [Knight Ridder report]. They expressed concerns, however, that a comprehensive draft would be presented to the National Assembly without their agreement, a development that would have profoundly-problematic political implications. AP has more.

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