by MONITOR
ANOTHER new constitution is in the offing – the promised one for Iraq. There was more news about this last week when Paul Bremer, the United States administrator for Iraq, gave a progress report on his work which was seen on video in Washington; he also gave evidence, by video–link, to the House Armed Services Committee. Concerning the constitution Mr Bremer said that he wanted to take a “hands–off” approach to its preparation. He believed that it should be written by Iraqis and said that if they wanted to propose what he called “a socialist system” for Iraq's future, “that will be their business”. The first step would be a constitutional conference of several hundred participants convened in six to seven weeks. On subsequenmt timing he said, “If they write it fast, that's fine; I get to go home earlier. If it takes them longer, then we'll just stay here longer. I don't think we should put ourselves in any deadline boxes." It is difficult to take Mr Bremer's remarks seriously. How will the six or seven hundred participants at the constitutional conference be chosen? Who will be “the writers”? Are we really to believe that if the conference opted for an Islamic state or a return to a Baathist socialist state, the Americans would just go along with that? In any case, Mr Bremer will not be going home very soon. After the constitution is written it has to be approved in a national referendum and elections would have to follow. And then...who knows?

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