WASHINGTON (AFP) â€” Visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari late Friday sought to ease sectarian concerns about the shape of Iraq’s future government and denounced those who continued to foment violence against it.
â€œThere is a strong determination of the Iraqi people to succeed on this path,â€ Jaafari said at a news conference.
Earlier, the prime minister, who arrived Thursday in Washington, met with President George W. Bush and US congressional leaders to discuss the process of drafting a new Iraqi constitution, which must be finished by August 15.
Voters are expected to evaluate it in a referendum by October 15 and choose a new government in December.
One of the most controversial issues is the role in which Islam would play under a new constitution. Secular and Christian Iraqis strongly oppose calls for Islamic law to be the only source of legislation, rather than a source as in the current law.
When talks were under way last year over the drafting of an interim constitution, Jaafari, a Shiite Islamist, was among those leading the call for Islam as the only source of legislation.
Friday, he promised a free and open debate on the concerns.
â€œLet us bear in mind that the constitution is for all Iraqis,â€ Jaafari said. â€œThis is something that will be looked at again … and ultimately it is the people who should decide.â€
He said his government also has bent over backward to include the Sunni minority, which largely boycotted the January 30 election that brought the governing coalition of Shiite and Kurd parties to power.
Jaafari, however, flatly rejected a role for the insurgents who have continued to fight the new government and the US-led troops providing security, and chided its supporters in the United States and elsewhere.