WikiLeaks: 2005-10-07: 05BAGHDAD4143: Christian Voters to Help Sink the Constitution?
Viewing cable 05BAGHDAD4143, CHRISTIAN VOTERS TO HELP SINK THE CONSTITUTION?
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C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 004143 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2015 TAGS: PGOV PINS PINR PNAT IZ SUBJECT: CHRISTIAN VOTERS TO HELP SINK THE CONSTITUTION? REF: MOSUL 149 Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT FORD FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). ¶1. (C) The leading Christian politician in Transitional National Assembly, Yonadam Kanna told PolOff, however, that many Christians are unhappy with the draft because Section One, Article 2A declares that no law can be passed that contradicts Islam. Moreover, some Christian minorities, such as the Syriacs take umbrage that they are not mentioned among the minority groups listed in the constitution. According to Christian leaders, there are about 200,000 Christians in Ninawa province, of which 100,000 are registered voters. Of these, he predicts about 60,000 of them will vote against the draft constitution. ¶2. (C) Ban Shakir Al-Imarah, Women's Alliance for a Democratic Iraq, who is an Assyrian Christian, told PolOff on October 7 that the constitution is "horrible" and the Kurds have successfully weakened Iraq's Christians by separating Chaldeans and Assyrians in order to ensure their control of Ninewah. She also claimed that, while Chaldeans and Assyrians overall want to be united as one group, the Kurds were able to "buy off" their religious leaders in exchange for agreement to a separation in the constitution. ¶3. (C) Head of the Christian and Other Religions Endowments Abdullah Hermiz al-Noufali agreed with Kanna and al-Imarah about Christians' concerns regarding the constitution; however, he pointed out that the Christian leadership was really driven by a desire to protect its separate infrastructures. Nonetheless, said al-Noufali, the result is a constitution that will be harmful to Christians and he predicted that the majority of them would vote against it. He also noted that many priests are encouraging their congregations to vote "no" in the referendum. ¶4. (C) COMMENT: Kanna, al-Imarah, and al-Noufali's comments on Christian discontent with the constitution agree with reports from REO Mosul (see reftel). Recent polling on the draft constitution shows that around 70 percent of voters in Ninawa province state they will vote against the draft constitution. Given the two-thirds threshold needed in three provinces for the Sunni Arabs to block the draft constitution, Christian and Shebak (another ethnic minority group) communities in Ninawa province, which total roughly ten percent of the governorate population, could become decisive in deciding whether Ninawa is one of the three provinces decisively rejecting the constitution. END COMMENT.