Thu, Oct 13, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Draft Iraq charter enjoys late boost


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and other top politicians yesterday praised as "historic" the last-minute compromises that negotiators reached on the draft constitution and urged Iraqis to vote "yes" in this weekend's referendum.

But insurgents continued attacks apparently aimed at wrecking Saturday's vote. A suicide bomber set off hidden explosives in a crowd of men waiting outside an Iraqi army recruitment center in the northwestern town of Tal Afar, killing 30 Iraqis and wounding 35, officials said.

In Baghdad, a government minister escaped an apparent assassination attempt when a convoy of government cars preparing to pick him up at his office was hit by a suicide car bomb that wounded five of his bodyguards and five Iraqi bystanders, police said.

Those and other militant attacks yesterday raised Iraq's death toll over the last 17 days to 425, according to police reports.

Still, the Iraqi government stepped up its campaign urging Iraqis to ignore militant attacks aimed at wrecking Saturday's constitutional referendum and to vote "yes" for the document aimed at advancing the country's democratic reforms.

"I have good news for the Iraqi people on this historic day. An agreement has been reached on amendments to the draft constitution," Talabani said during a nationally televised news conference. "There is no excuse for Arab Sunnis to boycott the vote now that we have responded to all their demands and suggestions."

He was followed at the microphone by several other Iraqi politicians who also praised the compromises reached on Tuesday night by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish powerbrokers on the charter ahead of Saturday's referendum.

The breakthrough deal reached on Tuesday night by powerbrokers from Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni and Kurdish minorities attempts to address concerns among Sunnis that have prompted many of them to say they will vote "no" in the referendum.

The deal that the negotiators reached on Tuesday night agrees on a mechanism to consider amending the constitution after it is approved in Saturday's nationwide vote.

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