Saturday, August 13, 2005 - U.S. & World - Sunnis Reject Shiites' Iraqi Federalist Proposal - U.S. & World - Sunnis Reject Shiites' Iraqi Federalist Proposal

Angered by Shiite calls for a federal region, Sunni clerics urged followers Friday to vote against the constitution if it contains measures they believe would divide the country in a dispute that threatened to delay the charter's completion by a Monday deadline.

Also Friday, a U.S. Apache helicopter crashed in northern Iraq, injuring two U.S. forces, and a roadside bomb killed an American soldier in the central city of Tikrit, the military said.

Iraq's three major Sunni organizations appeared to have taken a united stand both for voting and against demands for federalism after they boycotted the Jan. 30 parliamentary elections.

Sunni Arab leaders were responding to a demand by a leading Shiite lawmaker for provisions to allow local Shiite control in the southern and central parts of the country. Sunni Arabs fear they will lose out on oil revenues if the country is split into federated zones.

'We reject it wherever it is, whether in the north or in the south, but we accept the Kurdish region as it was before the war,' said Kamal Hamdoun, a Sunni member of the committee drafting the constitution. Some Shiite leaders want to replicate the success of Kurdish leaders in the north who govern an autonomous part of the country.

'The aim of federalism is to divide Iraq into ethnic and sectarian areas. We will cling to our stance of rejecting this,' Hamdoun said."

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