03/08/2004, 00.00
Iraq

Signing of temporary constitution considered an "historic moment"

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – This morning the 25 members of Iraq's Provisional Governing Council signed the country's temporary constitution. The signing took place before both Iraqi and American representatives at a desk which belonged to King Feisal I, Iraq's first monarch after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. 

Mohammed Bahr al-Ulloum, the Council's president, defined the signing a "historic, decisive moment in Iraqi history." And Massud Barazani, the Council's Kurdish leader, said "for the first time we Kurds feel like citizens of Iraq. This document will strengthen unity among Iraqis like never before."

The signed draft of the constitution attempts to integrate a federal system of government and national unity in addition to the values of Islam and secularity as well as the rights of women and minorities. The temporary constitution will be valid until 2005 when a national referendum will approve a permanent constitution. 

The draft's signing took place 9 days after the original date established by the American. The delay was partly due to the period of mourning and funerals following the violent terrorist attacks in Karbala and Baghdad and partly due to objections raised by Shiites, which were finally resolved yesterday after 5 Shiite representatives met with Ayatollah Al Sistani in Najaf. Al Sistani said he had reservations about the draft's content, but he wouldn't have appealed against it.  

Today just before the draft was signed into law Bahr al-Ulloum said, "We have to hold national interests above those of our own. The world expects us to work (together) for our nation." Immediately afterward, the Council took a vote of hands for the temporary constitution's approval.  

Around an hour prior to the ceremony some mortar shells exploded at two Baghdad police stations, wounding 4 persons including a police officer.
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