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Context of 'August 28, 2005: Iraqi Presidential Council Endorses Proposed Constitution, despite Sunni Objections'

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Yugoslavia’s National Assembly passes amendments allowing Serbia to change its constitution. The changes are based on an endorsement by Serbia’s Assembly of a working group report that found the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution was unconstitutional in allowing the socialist autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina to block amendments to the Serb constitution and that the 1974 constitution was a violation of the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia’s plan to form a Yugoslavia with six equal republics after World War II. Under the new constitution, Serbian laws have precedence over provincial laws; Serbia controls judicial appointments and firings; provincial economic and educational policies are coordinated with Serbia; and the provinces lose their diplomatic role, their military power, and much of their police power. The amendments to Serbia’s constitution violate the 1974 constitution, which will remain the law of the land until 1992. [Kola, 2003, pp. 178, 183]

Entity Tags: Yugoslavia, 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia, Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Yugoslav Federal Assembly

Timeline Tags: Kosovar Albanian Struggle

The US-appointed Iraqi Interim Governing Council signs the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), providing a timetable for the establishment of a representative government in Iraq. The TAL will serve as the country’s constitution during the transitional period, set to begin on June 30, 2004. On that date, the CPA will be dissolved and power will be transferred to a transitional government (This will actually happen on June 28; see June 28, 2004), which will rule Iraq until an elected government has been established. According to the TAL, the National Assembly will be elected in January 31, 2005 and charged with the task of writing a constitution that will be subjected to popular referendum no later than October 15, 2005. Finally, an elected government must be established no later than December 31, 2005. The TAL also includes provisions that place certain restrictions on the transitional government, such as one stating that all “laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority” will remain in force during this period. [Iraq Transitional Administrative Law, 3/8/2004; CNN, 6/28/2004]

Entity Tags: Iraqi Governing Council

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Ayatollah Sistani warns in a letter to the United Nations that the Security Council’s forthcoming resolution (see June 8, 2004) on the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq must not contain any references to the interim constitution known as the Transitional Administrative Law (see March 8, 2004) because that document “runs counter to the will of the Iraqi people.” Sistani writes: “This law, which has been written by an unelected council under the occupation and its direct influence, restricts the national [body] due to be elected at the beginning of the new year to draft Iraq’s permanent constitution. This runs against law and is rejected by the majority of the Iraqi people.” [Associated Press, 6/9/2004]

Entity Tags: Sayyid Ali Husaini al-Sistani

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

The United Nations Security Council unanimously passes Resolution 1546, formally transferring control of Iraq’s political and economic affairs to an interim government. While the resolution states that Iraq’s government has “full sovereignty,” the Iraqis will not have authority over the activities of the 160,000-strong US-led multinational force. Rather the resolution only states that the coalition forces have the right to “take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq,” albeit in a “security partnership” with the government. If the Iraqi government objects to a military operation in the country, its only option is to veto the participation of Iraqi personnel. This means, for example, that US and British forces retain the right to detain Iraqis, search homes, and respond to perceived threats employing whatever force they deem necessary, without approval from Iraq’s government. The French and Germans had proposed a provision that would have given the Iraqi government veto power over any military operations it objects to, but the US would not agree to it. The resolution does allow the Iraqi government to order the withdrawal of all international troops, however as observers have noted, given the current security situation, that is an unlikely scenario. [United Nations, 6/8/2004; New York Times, 6/9/2004] In spite of Kurdish demands, the resolution makes no references to Iraq’s interim constitution (see March 8, 2004), which Ayatollah Sistani has said is “counter to the will of the Iraqi people” (see June 8, 2004). The Kurds wanted the UN to affirm the validity of the interim constitution because it includes a clause that would give the Kurdish minority more leverage in crafting the country’s permanent constitution. Another provision in the constitution asserts that the interim government is bound by the laws passed under the authority of the Coalition Provisional Authority. However many Iraqis oppose the laws that were passed by the CPA because those laws made drastic changes to Iraq’s economic policy, opening it up to unrestricted foreign investment. The absence of any reference to the interim constitution in the resolution undermines the validity of the constitution and Bremer’s laws, according to some experts and officials. [New York Times, 6/9/2004] Main points of the resolution include:
bullet A national conference of political, religious, and tribal representatives shall convene in July to choose consultative counsels that will advise the interim government.
bullet Elections will be held for a transitional national assembly no later than January 31, 2005. The assembly will form a transitional government, which will draft a permanent constitution. Iraqis will then have elections for a full-term government no later than December 31, 2005.
bullet The multinational force in Iraq will help the Iraqi government recruit, train, and equip Iraqi security forces.
bullet The Iraqi government has sole authority for the disbursement of oil and gas revenues.
bullet The interim government must refrain “from taking any actions affecting Iraq’s destiny.”
bullet The UN mandate for the multinational force will expire after elections are held under a new constitution; however the council “will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the government of Iraq.”
The resolution is the product of two weeks of negotiation, undergoing five revisions. The original draft was submitted on May 24. [Associated Press, 6/8/2003] On at least one occasion during this process, the Iraqi Governing Council had complained that its views were not being adequately represented in the Security Council. In one statement, the governing council said they wanted to discuss full Iraqi control of “the activities of the Iraqi armed forces and security forces.” The council also objected to any moves to grant foreign soldiers immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. [Associated Press, 5/25/2003] Though the resolution’s final context contains no such provision, Paul Bremer will sign an extension (see June 27, 2004) to Order 17, which granted US personnel and contractors immunity from prosecution by the Iraq government.

Entity Tags: Germany, United Nations Security Council, Iraqi Governing Council, United States, France

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Iraq’s presidential council endorses the final draft of Iraq’s permanent constitution and sends it to the National Assembly. The constitution will be subjected to a referendum vote on October 15 (see October 15, 2005). While the proposed constitution is supported by the Kurdish and Shiite members of the council, the document is bitterly opposed by representatives of the Sunni Arabs, the ethnic Turkomen of northern Iraq, Christians, secular groups, and women. [New York Times, 8/29/2005]
bullet The second article of the constitution declares that Islam is the official state religion, and that it will be regarded as “a main source of legislation.” It also states that “no law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.” Clerics, therefore, would likely sit on the Supreme Court and would have a role in presiding over family disputes like marriage, divorce, and inheritance. The provision is considered an affront to women’s rights since most interpretations of Islamic law afford women substantially fewer rights than men. [New York Times, 8/29/2005; Associated Press, 10/12/2005]
bullet Article 25 states that the Iraqi government “shall guarantee the reforming of the Iraqi economy according to modern economic bases, in a way that ensures complete investment of its resources, diversifying its sources and encouraging and developing the private sector.” [Associated Press, 10/12/2005] It marks a significant departure in economic policy from the Baathist government, whose constitution stated that “national resources and basic means of production are owned by the people.” [Constitution of Iraq, 1968]
bullet Article 110, which deals with oil policy, states: “The federal government and the governments of the producing regions and provinces together will draw up the necessary strategic policies to develop oil and gas wealth to bring the greatest benefit for the Iraqi people, relying on the most modern techniques of market principles and encouraging investment.” Observers note that, while this section states that both the federal government and the regional governments will work together, a subsequent clause appears to contradict this. That clause states: “All that is not written in the exclusive powers of the federal authorities is in the authority of the regions. In other powers shared between the federal government and the regions, the priority will be given to the region’s law in case of dispute.” [Associated Press, 10/12/2005]
bullet Article 115 of the constitution would make it possible for provinces to organize themselves as semi-autonomous federal regions, with their own distinct laws. This means, for example, that regions would be able to negotiate contracts with oil companies on their own and exercise control over a bulk of the oil revenue. [Muttitt, 2005] However, the precise division of authority between the central government and any regional governments is not clearly stated in the document. “All that is not written in the exclusive powers of the federal authorities is in the authority of the regions,” the document says. “In other powers shared between the federal government and the regions, the priority will be given to the region’s law in case of dispute.” Most of Iraq’s oil is located in either the Kurdish northern region or the Shiite-dominated south. The Sunnis, who have ruled Iraq almost without interruption since 1920 and whose communities lie predominantly in the resource-poor provinces of central and western Iraq, are opposed to this federalist political structure. [Associated Press, 10/12/2005]
bullet The final draft of the constitution is missing an article that had appeared in an earlier draft declaring that it is “forbidden for Iraq to be used as a base or corridor for foreign troops” or “to have foreign military bases in Iraq.” [Asia Times, 10/15/2005]

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

Iraqi voters approve a referendum for a new constitution (see also August 28, 2005). [Associated Press, 10/12/2005]

Timeline Tags: Iraq under US Occupation

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