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Iraqis call for constitutional amendments

[JURIST] Many Iraqis who voted for the new constitution [JURIST news archive; JURIST document] in the October referendum [JURIST report] have begun to call for amendments to its vague and controversial provisions. Those calling for amendments are concerned with the influence of religion on daily life because one clause prohibits any law that "contradicts the established provisions of Islam." There is also concern that the constitution does little to protect women's or human rights, among many other unclear or contradictory clauses in the constitution that raise doubts over the constitution's ability to serve as a set of rules for self-government. Iraqis calling for amendments also contend that the constitution divides Iraq along ethnic and religious lines into three largely self-governing regions, possibly setting the stage for a civil war. In addition, as each region will control future oil discoveries in its own area, the Sunni minority worries that they will not benefit equally from the oil profits, since they live in the oil-poor center of Iraq. As a result of a last minute deal between Shiites and Sunnis [JURIST report] prior to the October referendum, the newly elected Iraqi parliament may review constitutional amendments for up to four months after the new government takes office. If parliament approves any amendments, they will have to send the amended constitution to the Iraqi public for a second referendum. Official results of December's parliamentary elections [JURIST report] revealed Friday that the Shiite alliance failed to earn an outright majority, and will have to rule through a coalition of partners. Additionally, Sunnis gained seats in parliament, allowing them to play a larger role in the possible constitutional amendment process. However, Abdul Aziz Hakim [Wikipedia profile], leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the country's most powerful Shiite politician, recently stated that despite the compromise with Sunnis, religious Shiites elected to parliament would not "change the essence" of the constitution [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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