The Guardian March 17, 2004

Provisional constitution finally signed in Iraq

On March 8 the Iraqi Governing Council created by the 
occupation forces and US Administrator Paul Bremer have finally 
signed the Provisional Constitution that comes into effect from 
June 30 until at least the end of the year.

The document, originally scheduled for signing on March 3, was 
postponed until March 6 as a result of three days of mourning 
decreed after two attacks that took the lives of more than 100 

Disputes among important Shiite figures on some of the clauses in 
the Provisional Constitution project prevented the ceremony going 
ahead on March 6. They included one clause granting the Kurdish 
minority the right to annul the application of the constitution 
in regions where it has a majority, and the type of presidency 
established in the document, which instead of being rotational, 
provides for two vice presidents (corresponding to the country's 
two main minorities).

The signed document, nevertheless, does not present any 
substantial changes.

The insecure atmosphere created by constant attacks on the 
occupation forces has generated criticism of the United States 
for failing to guarantee safety in the country, whether that of 
the main Shiite religious authorities (the country's majority 
Muslim sect) or figures named by them to head the provisional 
civil government.

Ayatollah Alm al-Sistani, the highest national Shiite leader, 
accused the US forces of not providing security on Iraq's 
borders. In his turn, Bahr al-Uloum, president of the 
Administration Council named by the United States, blamed the 
authorities responsible for maintaining security for the lack of 

In the international sphere, the latest events in Iraq prompted 
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to warn that the only 
possible way of resolving this problem is through the framework 
of a political solution guaranteeing total sovereignty for the 
Iraqi people.

Speaking from Rome, where he initiated a tour of Europe, Egyptian 
President Hosni Mubarak warned of the possibility of the gates of 
hell being opened in the Middle East.

The US plan for the region could lead to a cycle of violence and 
anarchy, Mubarak warned.

In statements to the Italian newspaper La Repzblica, Mubarak 
affirmed that reforms in the Arab world need to be effected by 
the Arabs themselves.

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