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Praise For New Iraqi Constitution, But Sunnis Unhappy

29 August 2005 -- The completion of Iraq's draft constitution has drawn wide praise internationally -- despite rejection of the document by Iraqi Sunni leaders.

U.S. President George W. Bush paid tribute to the way the members of the constitutional committee had braved the intimidation of terrorists.

"The Iraqi people have once again demonstrated to the world that they are up to the historic challenges before them. The document they have produced contains far-reaching protections for fundamental human freedoms, including religion, assembly, conscience, and expression," he said.

The finalized draft was read out yesterday at the Iraqi Parliament, but the parliamentarians did not vote on it. It followed weeks of difficult negotiations between Iraq's Shi'ites, Kurds, and Sunnis.

Iraqi Sunnis are still not satisfied and yesterday called for intervention by the United Nations and the Arab League. Bush played down the Sunni discontent, saying it's only natural there would be disagreements in a still-unfolding political process.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan described the completion of the draft as "the result of an Iraqi-led and Iraqi-owned process." European officials also praised the effort.

However, insurgent violence continues. Two rockets hit the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, wounding an employee and damaging several vehicles.

(international agencies)

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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