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18 September 2005 -- Iraq's Shi'a-dominated parliament signed off today on final revisions to the country's draft constitution.

After weeks of delays, the deputy National Assembly speaker, Husayn al-Shahristani, said the new basic law has now been handed over to the United Nations. The UN has been tasked with printing copies of the draft to distribute to voters ahead of a referendum on 15 October.

The UN official in charge of printing the document, Nicholas Haysom, said the first copies will be handed out in about five days and that all 5 million copies will be printed by the end of September.

Meanwhile, Sunni Arab politicians have asked the United Nations for guarantees to ensure that the referendum is conducted fairly.

Sunnis are opposed to portions of the draft that allow for federalism and to a reference to Iraq as a Muslim but not an Arab country.

(AP/AFP/Reuters)

For RFE/RL's full coverage of the 15 October constitutional referendum in Iraq, see "Iraq Votes: Constitution Referendum"
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