REJECT PUPPET IRAQ ‘CONSTITUTION’ – amendments ‘took a lot and gave nothing’

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ROSE GENTLE and SUSAN SMITH at the start of their Peace Camp outside Downing Street yesterday afternoon
ROSE GENTLE and SUSAN SMITH at the start of their Peace Camp outside Downing Street yesterday afternoon

The latest amendments to the Iraqi ‘constitution’ approved by the puppet Iraqi parliament ‘offer nothing’, says the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS).

The amendments outline the mechanism by which the constitution can be amended if approved in today’s referendum.

Muthanna Harith al-Dari, spokesman for the AMS, in the Jordanian capital, Amman, last Wednesday reaffirmed the leading Sunni clerics’ opposition to the constitution and the occupation puppets.

Al-Dari said: ‘Yes, the Association of Muslim Scholars, the national forces opposing the occupation, and the political forces which wanted to enter the political process, still have the same position that was announced with the participation of the Iraqi Islamic Party last Saturday, 8 October, which is rejecting the constitution by all legitimate means.’

He commented on the turn around by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, which said it now accepted the amended constitution.

Al-Dari added: ‘Actually, we see that this amendment offers nothing.

‘We are surprised and regret that the brothers in the Islamic Party went against what was agreed on in the statement issued last Saturday, because this issue and agreeing to this amendment does not reflect political skill.

‘As we know politics is an issue of interests and one must give in return for what one takes.

‘We believe that this amendment took a lot and gave nothing in return.

‘It took the following: first of all, it gave legitimacy to the political process which is in a crisis, and this unintentionally salvages the US project as a result of being ignorant of the consequences of this decision.

‘Secondly, it gave an opportunity to implement the constitution and impose a fait accompli over seven months – three months before the elections and four after the elections, and set the foundation for dividing Iraq before the elections.

‘So no National Assembly will succeed in changing it regardless of the number of representatives opposing this implementation.

‘Then, it contributed to dividing the public opinion which has expressed growing rejection of the constitution over the past few days.’

He stressed: ‘The Islamic Party was the only side that agreed to this and none of the forces that signed the statement last Saturday changed its position.

‘A statement will be issued by these forces today or tomorrow confirming what we agreed last Saturday.

‘The Islamic Party alone took this decision.

‘I think they did not take notice of important issues, the most important of which is that there are no guarantees that the hoped for amendments will be made after the elections.

‘Any amendment will be faced with the article on the three governorates (stipulating that the amendment cannot be endorsed if it is rejected by two-thirds of voters in three or more governorates), as stipulated in the ill-reputed Bremer’s State Administration Law, and this article will be used this time for the purpose with which it was originally written.

‘Furthermore, what guarantees do we have on the integrity of the elections process?

‘It is as lacking as the referendum which will be held next Saturday.

‘Who will guarantee achieving the required balance in the National Assembly that will be capable of making this amendment?

‘They also failed to notice that any future National Assembly can amend the draft constitution and make concessions, without this being stipulated, unless the balance on which the brothers in the Islamic Party are pinning hopes is achieved.’

Also last Wednesday, in a news conference, the Sunni committee of the ‘absentees’ in the Constitution Drafting Committee termed the amendments that were agreed upon as minor and non-essential.

The committee, which comprises 19 political organisations, stressed that it will not be bound by the agreement that was announced, reiterating its rejection of the draft constitution.

Earlier, Dr Ammar Wajih Zayn-al-Abidin, member of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Islamic Party, had attempted to explain the change of position by his party.

Zayn-al-Abidin said: ‘We were offered a chance to add a paragraph to the constitution, which says the National Assembly will set up a special committee to review the constitution.

‘This committee would represent all the major components of the Iraqi people.

‘This committee would present an assessment of the constitution within four months, including the necessary amendments to it, to the National Assembly.

‘After approving them with an absolute majority, the amendments will be put to a public referendum within two months.

‘The amendments will be endorsed if the majority of voters in Iraq agree to them and if two-thirds of the voters in three governorates or more do not reject them.

‘In fact, our previous position was clear, which is to reject the constitution because of the clear legal contentions of it and because of the lack of flexibility by other parliamentary blocs.

‘The paragraph that was added has given us a chance to have, after four months, the ability to amend many paragraphs in the constitution, which would be in the interest of all the components of the Iraqi people.’

Following his statement, in the first reaction by the armed groups in Iraq to the decision by the Iraqi Islamic Party to accept the draft constitution, a group calling itself the Victorious Group Army said in an Internet statement that the Islamic Party does not represent the Sunnis in Iraq and does not have the right to speak on their behalf.

Also, an explosion was reported on Wednesday evening at the Iraqi Islamic Party’s headquarters in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

In other developments on Wednesday, an attempt was made on the life of Sa’d Mijhim Nayif al-Hardan, the puppet Iraqi minister of state for governorates’ affairs.

A booby-trapped car driven by a suicide bomber blew up at 8am local time Wednesday, targeting the minister’s motorcade in the Al-Qadisiyah area of Baghdad.

But Nayif al-Hardan was not in any of the cars in the motorcade.

Four guards and two civilians were wounded in the attack, and three cars in the motorcade were damaged.

The minister had been at home and the motorcade was heading to take him to work.

In other resistance operations that took place in Baghdad, an explosive charge went off in the Al-Ghazaliyah area targeting an Iraqi police patrol, wounding the patrol officer.

In the north of the country, resistance fighters blew up the oil pipeline between Kirkuk and the Turkish Ceyhan port.