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Head of Iraq''s largest Sunni political party insists on changes to draft constitution - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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ANKARA, Turkey (AP)- Tariq al-Hashemi, secretary-general of Iraq”s largest Sunni political organization, said Thursday that his party will push for changes to Iraq”s draft constitution until the last minute.

As Iraq braces for an Oct. 15 national referendum on the charter, many Sunni groups, including al-Hashemi”s Iraqi Islamic Party, have urged people to vote &#34no.&#34 The constitution risks being rejected if there is a two-thirds &#34no&#34 vote in at least three provinces.

&#34It is possible to make changes until the last minute,&#34 al-Hashemi told reporters during a visit to Turkey. &#34We will strive for changes until the last minute.&#34

Al-Hashemi said the draft contained many flaws which his party wanted rectified, including what he said was confusion over Iraq”s Arab identity, uncertainty over the powers of federal regions and rules concerning constitutional amendments.

Sunnis object to the constitution”s reference to Iraq as &#34part of the Islamic world&#34 rather than the Arab world, a concession to non-Arab Kurds.

&#34The constitution is not fair, the constitution is not balanced and is full of loopholes,&#34 he said.

Sunni Arabs, who dominated the country under Saddam Hussein, are deeply concerned that they are losing power to the country”s majority Shiites and ethnic Kurds in the north. Majority Sunni Turkey, which is battling pro-autonomy Kurdish guerrillas in its own southeast, is worried that Iraq could fragment along ethnic lines.

Al-Hashemi is in Turkey to discuss the referendum with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and other leaders.

A coalition of Sunni groups boycotted the Jan. 30 election that chose Iraq”s transitional government.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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