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Shiites hold rally in support of Iraqi constitution

[JURIST] At least 5,000 Shiite Muslims held a rally Friday in the Southern Iraqi city of Basra, in a show of support for the draft Iraqi constitution [English translation; JURIST news archive]. Friday's rally follows smaller Sunni demonstrations [JURIST report] held earlier this week to protest against the constitution. The Shiite demonstration was organized by Iraq's two largest Shiite political groups, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Shiite Dawa Party, and was designed to garner support for the document which must be approved by voters in an October 15 referendum. Under Iraq's Transitional Administrative Law [text], a majority must vote in favor of the charter, but if two-thirds of voters in any three of Iraq's provinces reject the draft, the constitution will be defeated. AP has more.

10:45 AM ET - Iraq negotiators said Friday that discussions continue on the draft constitution, in an effort to gain Sunni Arab approval. Sunnis did not sign on to the agreement submitted to the Iraq parliament [JURIST report] last Sunday, citing concerns [JURIST document] on the charter's stance on federalism, de-Baathification and other sensitive issues. A Shiite negotiator said Friday that "Discussions are under way to make minor changes in the language to improve the text to satisfy some parties." Sunni negotiators and Western diplomats also confirm that there are ongoing talks, but did not elaborate on specifics. AP has more.

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