Muqtada, Sistani’s Rep, Condemn Interim Constitution
Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 1608 gmt 26 Mar 04 via BBC Monitoring, reports that Muqtada al-Sadr also demanded in his sermon that if the Governing Council does not repeal the interim constitution or law of state administration, it should dissolve itself. He called the temporary constitution a “terrorist law.” He also charged the Governing Council with treason because it allowed US Secretary of State Colin Powell to visit recently.
Muqtada al-Sadr said, ‘ The Governing Council should dissolve itself or remain away from the tyrannical US demands. It should also renounce this unjust, terrorist document, or what they refer to as the constitution or the law. They should keep the Iraqi army in Iraqi hands. That would be a move in the interest of the Iraqi people, who suffered a great deal. The United States has called for closing the border. Then, we wonder, from where did this person called Powell come in? What approvals did he get to enter, and what passport did he use? So enough violations against the Iraqi people. O zealous Iraqi people: How do you approve of the entry of such terrorist persons? O council, if he entered the country at your approval, then you have betrayed the Iraqi people. If you were not aware of that in advance of Powell’s visit , then the disaster is bigger. ‘
Meanwhile, an Iraqi expatriate Iran-based radio station, Voice of the Mujahidin, in Arabic 0700 gmt 26 Mar 04 (via BBC world monitoring) reported that a spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had told the German wire service DPA that he ‘ ‘ will boycott the UN team, which is due to visit Iraq soon to help in the formation of an Iraqi interim government if the United Nations does not declare a clear stand concerning the controversial State Administration Law interim constitution . The media spokesman said that the interim constitution will only acquire legitimacy after its ratification in the elected national assembly. He added that this law puts obstacles to reaching and drafting a permanent constitution that would maintain the unity and rights of all the Iraqis in all their different sects. He added that the religious authority, which previously demanded the need for the UN Security Council to issue a resolution to set a date for holding general elections in the country, fears that the occupation authority would add the interim constitution to the expected UN resolution in order that it acquires the international legitimacy and becomes binding on the Iraqi people. ‘
In Karbala, Shaikh Nur al-Din al-Safi said in his Friday sermon from the mosque attached to the shrine of Imam Husayn that the interim constitution is “invalid,” according to AFP/ash-Sharq al-Awsat. Al-Safi is Sistani’s representative in that city. He said that Sistani has not just expressed reservations about the interim constitution, he “has rejected it.”
AFP adds that Safi went on, ‘ “Despite the respect that Seyyed Sistani has for Brahimi, Seyyed Sistani does not wish to be a party to any meeting or consultation with the UN team. We want the United Nations to respect its promises and the will of the Iraqi people who gave their opinion very clearly.” ‘
Firm Shiite opposition to the interim constitution could well derail the current US plans for elections in January of 2005, and could cause a lot of trouble in the coming months. The Kurds like the interim constitution just as it is, and would probably fight to keep it.