Flawed Interim Constitution

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Flawed Interim Constitution


Byline: Bruce Fein, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The appointed and much scorned Iraqi Governing Council promulgated an interim constitution on March 8, 2004. Its defects are alarming. When the Coalition Provisional Authority dissolves on June 30, 2004, Iraq is destined to disintegrate on the installment plan or faster. Styled the "Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period," the interim constitution is illegitimate, amateurish and unenforceable.

It was fashioned by unelected Iraqis untutored in the arts of democratic governance and the rule of law. According to some polls, prominent IGC member Ahmed Chalabi commands less popular confidence than Saddam Hussein.

Neither through popular referendum nor elected representatives have the Iraqi people conferred moral legitimacy on the interim charter, which is no more popularly respected than the French Monarchy of Louis XVI. But no constitution consistent with democratic freedoms is worth a farthing unless voluntary compliance and popular veneration are likely to be forthcoming.

The interim constitution neglects to establish rules for creating an Iraqi government entrusted with its enforcement when the CPA dissolves concurrent with the termination of United States sovereignty on June 30, 2004. Article 2 cryptically declares the Iraqi Interim Government "shall be constituted in accordance with a process of extensive deliberations and consultations with cross-sections of the Iraqi people conducted by the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority and possibly in consultation with the United Nations."

Left undecided is whether the Interim Government will be appointed or elected; who will do the appointing or electing; whether members will represent regions, religions, ethnic groups, or equal populations on the one-person-one vote principle. At present, even crumbs of consensus are difficult to discern among Kurds, Sunnis, Shi'ites, Turkmen and other factions with less than 100 days before the June 30 deadline. And eleventh-hour political pacts concluded between sharply divided constituencies typically break at the first serious quarrel.

The unviability of the interim constitution is further established by centerpiece provisions that celebrate an Islamic theocracy and an anemic rule of law unadorned with fundamental freedoms.

Article 7 crowns Islam as the official state religion and a source of legislation. It further ordains that, "No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam" is valid. Thus, the Holy Koran is every bit as much the supreme law in Iraq under the interim constitution as the United States Constitution is in the United States.

The Islamic theocracy enshrined in Article 7 mocks the stipulation of Article 12 that religious discrimination is prohibited. If the latter were true, then papal encyclicals would be as legally binding on Iraq as the Holy Koran. To borrow from George Orwell's "Animal Farm," all religions are equal in the interim constitution, but Islam is more equal than others.

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