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Key Iraqi Lawmaker: Constitution Deadline Will be Met


The committee writing Iraq's new constitution has decided to press ahead with plans to submit a draft by the August 15 deadline.

Iraq's main Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurdish groups agreed to keep working overtime to reach a compromise on the constitution, although major questions remain over the future shape of the Iraqi state.

Addressing members of parliament, Committee Chairman Human Hamoudi said no extension will be needed, and that remaining questions could be overcome in a matter of days.

Members of the drafting committee have been deadlocked over several key issues, including the role of Islam, Iraq's relationship with the Arab world, and how to define "federalism" in Iraq.

U.S. officials - including the new ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad - have urged the Iraqis to overcome differences and stick to the timetable set down in the Transitional Administrative Law, drafted under U.S. guidance to help Iraq through its transition to democratic government.

The constitutional committee is permitted to request a six-month extension. But the deadline for such a request would have been August 1.

Mr. Hamoudi, a Shi'ite cleric, said members were determined to submit a draft on time.

Mr. Hammoudi said although the committee has only 15 days to finish its work, the members are determined to submit a draft on time. He said the committee would be able to submit a draft to parliament by August 12, leaving up to three days for final revisions before presenting the proposed constitution to the people.

If all goes according to plan, an October referendum on the document will be followed by new parliamentary elections in December.

Moving forward in the political process is seen as one of the critical steps that would be required for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing from Iraq next year.

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