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Meeting New Deadlines May be 'Impossible,' says Iraqi Council - 2003-10-14

Some members of Iraq's Governing Council say it is going to be difficult, if not downright impossible, to meet the goals of Washington's latest draft U.N. resolution.

The U.S. latest draft would give the Iraqi Council until December 15 to draw up a timetable for holding national elections and drafting the country's constitution.

But some Council members tell VOA that, while drafting a timetable might not be difficult, meeting the deadlines might not be achievable. Writing the constitution, they say, may prove to be almost impossible.

Samir Shattar Mahmud el-Sumaidy is one of the 25 members of the Iraqi Governing Council. He told VOA Iraq might have to settle for a temporary constitution until a permanent one can be agreed on.

"If it proves too complicated to agree on writing a permanent constitution I have a feeling we might go for the temporary constitution," he said. "If a permanent constitution becomes impossible to achieve then we will have to think of the alternative."

Mr. el-Sumaidy said it might take at least a year to write a constitution.

Speaking last Thursday in Baghdad, U.S. administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer said an interim constitution is not an alternative.

"On the question of a provisional constitution there is virtually no support for that that I have found among any Iraqis," he said. "We do not support it and I have met no one on the Governing Council, or among the ministers, who supports it. We believe there must be a permanent, stable constitution that provides the broad political framework for democratic and stable life in Iraq."

According to the head of Baghdad University's Center for International Studies, Mohammed Jawad Ali, the greatest difficulty in writing a constitution will be addressing the needs of an ethnically and religiously diverse Iraqi population.

Mr. Ali says the main problem will be deciding whether the constitution will be secular or based on the Islamic faith. Resolving that issue alone, he says, will take more than a year. He notes that even in countries like France or India, it took two to three years to write the constitution.

Mr. Ali says the public will not readily accept a constitution written by the Governing Council, a body appointed by the United States, rather than elected by the Iraqi people.

He says the tough part for the Council is to set a timetable that will satisfy the Iraqis' wish to hold elections as soon as possible.