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Iraqi Sunni Group Eyes Approval Of Draft Constitution

A poster promoting the draft constitution (file photo) 12 October 2005 -- Spokesmen for a major Sunni Arab political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, are urging supporters to vote "yes" in the 15 October Iraqi constitutional referendum, following a breakthrough deal with Shi'a and Kurds that could lead to later changes to the draft constitution.

However, Iraqi Islamic Party head Tariq al-Hashimi told Al-Jazeera television in an interview last night that the party has not officially changed its position, and will decide whether to support a "yes" vote only after agreed upon changes to the draft are made when the National Assembly meets today.

The tentative deal was reportedly reached late last night during closed-door negotiations. U.S. diplomats were also reportedly involved in the talks over the past days.

According to reports, Shi'ite, Kurdish, and Sunni Arab negotiators agreed that, if the constitution is approved by voters on 15 October, the Iraqi parliament that is due to be chosen in December elections would be able to set up a commission to consider amendments to the document.

It was not immediately clear if the current parliament will need formally to approve the deal.

Other Sunni Arab groups continue to oppose the charter, saying they fear it could isolate Sunnis and lead to Iraq breaking up into competing regions.


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