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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Iraq makes progress on crucial constitution plan

By Mariam Karouny Tue May 15, 6:00 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An Iraqi committee agreed on Tuesday to send to parliament a plan to reform the constitution, an important step towards implementing national reconciliation laws that Washington says are critical to ending violence.

Once-dominant Sunni Arabs, who make up the backbone of the insurgency, have long demanded changes to a constitution they say concedes too much power to majority Shi'ites and ethnic Kurds, who were persecuted under Saddam Hussein.

U.S. President George W. Bush, under pressure to show tangible progress in the four-year-old war, has piled pressure on Iraqi leaders to agree power-sharing legislation.

Such laws, which include sharing Iraq's vast oil wealth and ending a ban on former members of Saddam's party from public office, are particularly aimed at assuaging Sunnis Arabs and bringing them firmly into the U.S.-backed political process.

(complete article click here)