Friday, August 12, 2005

Sunnis 'shocked' by Shiite call for autonomy

Iraq's ousted Sunni Arab elite expressed alarm Friday after the country's Shiite majority made a surprise move towards Kurdish-style autonomy, just days before a crucial deadline for agreement on a new constitution.

Thursday's call from leading Shiite politician Abdul Aziz al-Hakim for autonomy in Shiite areas of south and central Iraq angered Sunni Arab leaders who said it could derail the entire political process.

"We are shocked and scared by the demand for autonomy as expressed by my Shiite brothers," said Salah al-Motlag, a key Sunni member of the constitutional drafting committee.
"The timing of the demand is wrong with just three days left to go for the deadline. Such demands can delay the constitution and Iraq could be without a constitution for another year."

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