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Iraqis Wrangle over Interim Constitution, Deadline is Today - 2004-02-28


Iraqis continue to wrangle over an interim constitution that was to be completed today (Saturday).

Members of the U.S. - appointed Iraqi Governing Council and U.S. - led Coalition Provisional Authority meeting in Baghdad appear to be deadlocked with the deadline for the temporary charter just hours away.

Eight Shi'ite members of a committee drafting the document stormed out of talks late Friday over differences on the role of Islam in Iraq's legal system.

Committee members representing Iraq's Shi'ite majority want Islam to play a prominent legal role, but the U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, has indicated he might not approve a document that makes religion the basis of law.

Other issues yet to be resolved include women's rights and their role in Iraq's political life, and the extent of Kurdish autonomy.

Iraq's interim constitution is to take effect June 30th when the United States plans to transfer power to Iraqis. The document is to serve as a legal framework for a new government until a permanent constitution is adopted next year.

Information for this report is AP, AFP and Reuters.

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