[JURIST] A committee struck to reform Iraq's constitution [JURIST news archive] said Tuesday it planned to have its recommendations ready to go before the Iraqi parliament next week. The 31-member committee, which includes Shiites, Sunni Arabs and ethnic Kurds, must complete its proposals by May 15, according to the Iraqi constitution [PDF]. Parliament must approve any constitutional amendment by an absolute majority before a referendum takes place. Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi [Wikipedia profile] and Sunni leaders have objected to portions of the constitution that might split the country into ethnic enclaves, and have threatened to leave the government if Sunni concerns are not addressed by the deadline.
Iraq's current constitution was ratified in a 2005 referendum [JURIST report]. Shiites and Kurds overwhelmingly supported it, while Sunni Arabs opposed it. Among the controversial articles was that different provinces could break away from the capital to form autonomous federal regions. 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. Attempts to pass such measures have been blocked [JURIST report] in the past partly due to Sunni opposition [JURIST report] to the plan. Reuters has more. CNN has additional coverage.