Iraq Extends Constitution Deadline

Shiite Muslim leader Abdul-Aziz Al-Hakim, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Kurdish leader Massoud Barazani, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and Deputy Prime Minister Roj Nuri Shaways meet at the Prime Minister's office to discuss the drafting of the constitution, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005,
Unable to hammer out a final agreement, Iraq's parliament voted unanimously Monday to allow a seven-day extension to finish the draft constitution.

"We have reached agreements on many topics," speaker Hashim al-Hassani told parliament. "Some matters are still pending. Despite all efforts, we have not been able to reach agreements that please everyone."

Two Shitte officials said the two key issues that remained unresolved were women's rights and whether Kurds might someday secede.

"Regrettably we were not able to reach a draft we could all agree on," Kurdish minister Barhem Saleh said. "We agreed to extend the period to discuss the draft for a maximum of 10 days, maybe 7-10 days."

He said the draft will be presented to the National Assembly and that discussions over the constitution would continue. "If we don't reach an agreement, then the National Assembly will be dissolved, and we will call for general elections for a new National Assembly in a maximum period before Oct. 10," he said.

Today was the deadline for finalizing a constitution, but that had been delayed by disagreements between Shiites and Kurds.

In other developments:

  • Iraqi commandos were led to a grave containing 30 bodies in the Owerij industrial district in southern Baghdad after interrogating insurgents detained in a raid earlier in the day, Col. Selam al-Maamuri of the Interior Ministry said.
  • Violence also continued during Monday's negotiations. One Iraqi soldier was killed and another injured in an insurgent ambush in west Baghdad, police Capt. Talib Thamir said.
  • In Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, gunmen killed three people in separate shootings, including a municipal council member and his driver, police said. Four others were wounded.
  • In the nearby town of Buhriz, gunmen killed three Iraqi soldiers and wounded three others at a checkpoint late Sunday, police said. In Khanaqin, near the Iranian border, a roadside bomb killed one civilian on Sunday, police said.
  • In Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, the body of a government food program worker was found, police said.
  • In the capital, a senior Iraqi Central Bank official, Haseeb Kadum, was kidnapped Sunday outside his home, police 1st Lt. Thaer Mahmoud said. The beheaded body of an unidentified woman also was found in the violent southern neighborhood of Dora, Mahmoud added.

    The National Assembly had been scheduled to convene at 6 p.m. to consider the draft but moments ahead of the time, members had been advised that the new starting time was 8 p.m.

    A few minutes before the original starting time, Tariq al-Hashimi, the general secretary of Iraq's biggest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic party, told Al-Jazeera television that the disagreements were broader than simply between Sunnis and the others.

    Instead, he said there still "points of disagreement" among Shiites and Kurds and that it might be better to delay a decision.