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[casi] Cracks in the Pudding: "Shiite Criticizes Iraq Sovereignty Plan2

Shiite Criticizes Iraq Sovereignty Plan

Associated Press Writer

A leading Shiite Muslim member of the Iraqi Governing Council expressed
reservations Wednesday about the deal to transfer sovereignty to Iraqis by
July and complained the agreement on the timetable was signed without enough
time for discussion.

"The Iraqi people were pushed aside and the Iraqi people should have an
important role," Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim told The Associated Press in an
interview. "This contradicts the principles of democracy."

The comments by al-Hakim, a leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq, marked the first time anyone on the 25-member council
has publicly expressed misgivings over the sovereignty formula, signed last
weekend by coalition administrator L. Paul Bremer and the council president,
Jalal Talabani.

Al-Hakim's comments could signal problems between the Iraqis and coalition
officials as they two sides begin steps to implement the plan.

Under the new political plan, Iraq will have by February a "fundamental law"
that enshrines human and civil rights, a legislature elected from provincial
caucuses by the end of May and a transitional government with sovereign
powers by July 1.

A new constitution drafted by a constituent assembly chosen in a general
election should be in place by the end of 2005.

"The situation is of concern for all in the Governing Council," al-Hakim
said. "Yesterday and the day before, it was discussed and there's a
consensus that this agreement was rushed. Such an important matter as this
needs thorough study before signing it."

Al-Hakim also said an "important point" will be status of "occupation
forces" after the provisional government is formed by the end of June but
did not elaborate. U.S. officials have said American and other forces will
stay in Iraq after then under an agreement with the new government.

He also repeated the longtime Shiite position that the Iraqi people should
elect representatives to a conference to draft a new constitution, which
must be ratified by the people in a second national vote

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