Top Shiite leaders in Iraq have resolved issues delaying the adoption of the interim constitution, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council has
The official signing ceremony for the interim constitution will now go ahead on Monday, despite previous fears that Shiite leaders would refuse to
sign it because of objects to certain aspects of the constitution.
The Shiite reversal came after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani rejected two clauses in the document -- one that would have given Iraq's
Kurds the power to scuttle a permanent charter and another that would have provided for a single president rather than a rotating leadership.
Al-Sistani's ability to break the unity of the 25-member council was yet another illustration of his enormous influence in Iraqi politics.
The president of the council, who was among the members who balked at signing, said he expected the dispute to be resolved by tomorrow.
"We have announced that Monday is the date for the signing of the law and we are determined to stick to this date," Muhammad Bahr al-Ulloum said in
the holy Shiite city of Najaf.
The interim constitution, which will remain in effect until a permanent charter is drafted next year, is a crucial part of the U.S. plan for handing
over power to the Iraqis on June 30.
It took intense negotiations last weekend, shepherded by the Americans, to overcome sharp divisions and reach a deal.
But just before Friday's signing, Shiite members of the council backed out because of al-Sistani's objections.
Guests at the ceremony were left waiting for hours, watching children in traditional garb sing patriotic songs, until it was announced around midnight
that the signing would not take place.
Al-Sistani's son, Hojatolislam Muhammad, shuttled back and forth between his father's home and al-Ulloum's office in Najaf, where the Shiite
council members gathered yesterday.
"There is no dispute. We are determined to sign on Monday," said Mouwafak al-Rubaie, another of the Shiite council members.
Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurd on the council, said he was hopeful for a signing tomorrow.
[Edited on 7-3-2004 by Zion Mainframe]
[Edited on 9-3-2004 by Zion Mainframe]