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Iraq lawmakers OK deal to set up constitutional panel, debate federalism bill

[JURIST] Members of Iraq's parliament [official website] reached a compromise Sunday establishing a committee to consider amendments to Iraq's constitution [JURIST news archive] and allowing debate to proceed on a bill to create federal regions [JURIST report] in the country. Constitutional amendment is a top priority for the country's Sunni Arabs, while Shiite politicians favor the federalism bill. Debate on the controversial draft federalism legislation will begin on Tuesday after an initial meeting of the constitutional committee on Monday.

Debate on the bill has been delayed [JURIST report] three times over the past two weeks partly due to Sunni opposition [JURIST report] to the plan. Sunnis oppose the creation of federal regions in Iraq because it would leave them without access to the country's oil fields, which are located predominately in Kurdish and Shiite-dominated regions. The bill will be debated for two days, read again with changes on October 1 and then voted on four days later. Legislators say it will take about 18 months to create federal regions if parliament approves the legislation. AP has more.

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