Ministries To Become Independent In

Ministries to become Independent in April; Shiite-Kurdish Disputes Fester (al-Hayat)

Raghida Dergham of al-Hayat : Nasrin Barwari, the minister of public works, affirmed on Wednesday that four ministries will be turned over to Iraqi sovereignty in the beginning of April. These are education, health, water utilities, and public works. She said that “the Coalition advisers will remain in them, but they will be under the authority of the ministries.”

Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, member of the Interim governing Council, told the newspaper that the coming of the team from the UN with regard to Iraqi elections will initiate an atmosphere of dialogue. Rubaie is planning a trip to Kurdistan for consultations with Massoud Barzani concerning suggestions for resolving the objections of Shiites to certain articles in the interim constitution. Al-Rubaie maintained that democracy is the rule of the political majority, not the numerical majority or the sectarian or ethnic majority. There must not be a veto, he said, on the political majority. He admitted that guarantees should be given to religious and national minorities against the dominance of a religious majority, including granting them a veto over the right of the ethnic or religious majority.

Kurdish leaders told al-Hayat that they have issued some quite offended statements recently because they feel that Sistani’s rejection of the interim constitution threatens the “rights of federalism” that the Kurds have won, which are protected by the article giving Kurds a veto over any future constitution.

Al-Rubaie suggested that the veto power could be retained, but narrowed only to a veto over matters affecting their rights and federalism. He seemed unconcerned with the danger of Kurdish separatism.

“If they want to separate, that is their choice, but we do not think it is in their interest.

Visitors to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani reported that he renewed his warning against the “snare” of the interim constitution. They also said that he was insisting that Saddam Hussein’s regime had not been ethnically based, but was a simple dictatorship. He warned against communal conflict, saying “it is forbidden to a Muslim to shed the blood of another Muslim.”