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Iraq's Kurdish Parliament Passes Draft Constitution

ARBIL, Iraq (AFP) -- Iraqi Kurdistan's regional parliament Wednesday passed Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein draft constitution, saying the charter, which still needs to be passed in Baghdad, was a "big step" for the Kurds.

"Although the draft is not up to our expectations, it represents a big step for us in this period," Kurdistan parliament speaker Adnan al-Mufti said in his address to parliament in Arbil.

An AFP correspondent said the draft was passed by all MPs present in a show of hands.

MPs first discussed key issues concerning Kurdish demands after which the draft was passed.

The Kurds had been demanding the right to self-determination, federalism in the northern region and inclusion of oil-rich Kirkuk in their region during negotiations with Baghdad.

However, intense pressure from the United States has forced them to water down their demands in order to pass the draft, which is due for Iraqi parliament approval Thursday.

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