Monday, September 18, 2006
A day before a planned informal meeting to discuss the draft legislation on a law to allow federalism, Iraq’s second largest Sunni Arab party yesterday rejected the plan and said it would instead divide the country. All political leaders from all parties in parliament are expected to meet over the the bill proposed by the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) to pave the way for a law to create a federal Iraq. Saleh Al Mutlaq’s National Dialogue Front is the second largest Sunni Arab grouping in the 275-seat parliament, with 11 deputies. The idea of federalism is enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, but before it can be implemented in practice the mechanics have to be legislated and also approved in a referendum.
COMMENT: Even if the meeting goes ahead on Tuesday, it is likely to be boycotted by parties such as Allawi's secular Iraqi National Accord, other Sunni parties and Shia parties such as Al Fadheela and that of al-Sadr's. Even if they attend, some Shia parties are unlikely to support the UIA as they do not want to give them the power to lead the south, the secularists believe in a united Iraq, as do the Sunnis, who are also concerned about losing access to revenue from the oil-rich north and south if the country is carved up. COMMENT ENDS.