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Germany

Berlin to Help Draft Iraqi Constitution

Washington is seeking German help to meet a tight timetable for writing a new Iraqi constitution based on Berlin's own postwar political rebirth.

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Iraqis have voted, now they need a constitution

Following talks with officials in Berlin, the US State Department's coordinator for Iraq policy, Richard Jones, said that Germany's federal system could serve as a model for Iraq. "I think Germany could potentially play a constructive role in helping the Iraqis draft the constitution because of your federal structure," he told reporters.

"Friends of mine who are working in Iraq and who've worked in the former Soviet Union and other very highly centralized systems have said that Iraq is the most centralized system they have ever seen."

Devolving Iraqi power

Jones noted that there were elections in January for all 18 Iraqi provinces, which he said would see political power devolve from Baghdad for the first time since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein fell from power.

"Now for the first time in modern Iraqi history, maybe for the first time ever, you have elected governments at the provincial level that are working to build themselves and of course in Germany, you have the Länder (federal states)," he said.

Falludscha

The constitution could spread power throughout the country

"I think that is a model which could be very useful for Iraq. Obviously, it is up to the Iraqi people but I would say that Germany may have some expertise to provide the Iraqis as they decide their permanent constitution, as to whether or not they want to continue the kind of system that Saddam had or if they want to develop a more decentralized system."

West Germany ratified a new Basic Law -- drafted with US occupying forces -- in 1949 aimed at eliminating the instruments that allowed the Nazis to centralize power in Berlin, and granting the federal states broad political scope.

Looming deadlines

The United States would like to see the Iraqi constitution written by August 15 and ratified by October 15, with new elections held by December 15 and a new government formed by the end of the year.

Jones met with officials from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's office, the foreign ministry and the ministry for economic co-operation and development as part of a European tour that also took in France, Italy and Turkey and involved meetings with European Union leaders.

He said a US-EU meeting on Iraq in Brussels in the second half of June would focus on coordinating political and economic assistance for Iraq. Jones, who was appointed to his position in March, served as chief policy officer and deputy administrator of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq until June 2004.

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