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Iraqi leaders sign temporary constitution

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Baghdad, March 8, IRNA -- All 25 members of the Iraqi Governing 
Council signed here on Monday an interim constitution, following days 
of bickering over certain articles of the document. 
The signing took place on a table, on which the first Iraqi 
constitution was inked in 1925 during the rule of the first Iraqi King
Feysal I. 
The signing had been postponed twice, first because of the Ashura 
mourning day, which was shattered by coordinated suicide bombings in 
which more than 180 people died, and then by reservations over certain
demands. 
Among the main points of the document is to let the Iraqi 
Kurdistan, including four provinces in the country`s north, retain 
its federal status. 
Islam will be the official religion of the state and is to be 
considered a source of legislation. The law clarifies that it will 
respect the Islamic identity of the majority of the people of Iraq, 
but will also guarantee the complete freedom of all religions and 
their religious practices. 
According to the law, direct elections will be held to form a 
transitional parliament after the handover of sovereignty to the 
Iraqi people on June 30, 2004. 
Arabic and Kurdish will be the two official languages, but all 
other minorities will have the right to use their own language in 
education. 
The draft constitution, including 64 articles and nine chapters, 
translated into several languages, has envisaged respect for freedom 
of expression and women`s rights. 
Some analysts described the signing as the most important 
political development in the transitional period of Iraq in recent 
months. 
Members of the Governing Council have earlier said the draft 
constitution has been drawn up by all Iraqis, including the country`s 
elite, and hailed it as a national document. 
The temporary constitution will take effect from July 1 and will 
be in force until the end of 2005 before a permanent charter is 
devised by the country`s new parliament. 
BH/210 
End 



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