Iraq will finish writing a new constitution and hold elections at the end of the year even if the country's once dominant Sunni minority continues to boycott the process, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said Sunday.
"It is in the interest of the Sunnis to participate without making excuses," Zebari said in an interview.
"If they do not take part the constitution will not reflect their hopes and ambitions and the process will not stop. There is a timetable and Iraq has to honour international commitments according to UN resolutions," said Zebari, who chaired a meeting of senior Iraqi diplomats in Amman.
Sunni members on a committee drafting the new constitution have suspended their membership after the killings of a Sunni member and another Sunni official involved in its work a few days ago.
A referendum on the constitution is due to be held before another general election at the end of the year.
Iraqi officials hope that broader Sunni participation in the post Saddam political system will help defeat the mostly Sunni-led insurgency, which has caused chronic instability after the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam in 2003.
Threatening to walk out
Meanwhile, members of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's bloc threatened Sunday to walk out of the constitutional drafting committee in support of a Sunni group that had boycotted the process.
Committee member Adnan al-Janabi, who is also part of secular leader Allawi's eight-member bloc, criticized the way the commission had dealt with the Sunni members' decision to suspend their participation in drafting the new charter.
"Their demands and suspension of membership should have been studied and taken in a way that reassures them and brings them to participate in the draft constitution that we want to be agreed upon by all Iraqis," he said.
Al-Janabi, who is also a spokesman for Allawi's group, said the bloc's continued participation remains in question. "Our continuation in the committee drafting the constitution has become dependent on getting clarifications to what we have asked earlier," al-Janabi said.
The mixed make-up of the committee was deemed crucial for drafting a constitution acceptable to all of Iraq's ethnic and religious communities, a key to any political exit from the unremitting violence in Iraq.
If Allawi's secular group joins the Sunnis in pulling out of the process, it raises the concern that a committee already dominated by Shi'ite religious parties and ethnic Kurds would be left in control of drafting the charter.
Source: China Daily