Constitutional Preparatory Report At

Constitutional Preparatory Report at end of September

Fuad Masum, head of the Preparatory Committee for the Iraqi Constitution, announced Sunday that his committee’s report would be out at the end of September. The committee sees two principal ways of proceeding toward an elected constitutional convention. One would be to hold town meeting style elections in each of the 19 provinces, producing 150 delegates, with perhaps 10 delegates chosen by Muslim clerics. The other way would be to do a census first, creating electoral rolls. Masum said that this way of proceeding would take two years, according to most experts. (-al-Zaman)

The first option contains the danger of factionalism, since the provincial elections envisaged would probably give an advantage to well organized local forces. East Baghdad will return delegates devoted to radical Shiite Muqtada al-Sadr. The northern provinces will be dominated by Kurds. Etc. This kind of delegate to a constitutional convention could be a spoiler, interested in narrow single issues like whether shariah or Islamic canon law would determine criminal penalties. But the second option, of waiting two years for a census to be completed, seems untenable. The UN Security Council wants a new government much faster than that.

A third option, of having the Interim Governing Council appoint the drafters of the constitution, is not favored by Masum, and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has said that the drafters must be elected.

What I don’t understand is why you can’t have parliamentary elections in accordance with the constitution in effect in the 1950s, and then write the new constitution afterwards.