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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sunnis Suspend Membership in Iraqi Committee After Slayings

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Sunni Arabs on the team charged with writing Iraq's constitution suspended their membership Wednesday after the killing of Sunni colleague Mijbil Issa, a move that could delay the drafting of the charter.

Tuesday's assassinations of Issa and committee adviser Dhamin Hussein al-Obeidi was a blow to the charter-writing body, and Wednesday's move is likely to further hinder its work. Two Sunnis already had quit due to insurgent threats.

"The environment in Iraq isn't right for anyone to get work done," said Salih al-Mutlaq, a spokesman for the Iraqi National Dialogue, a Sunni organization, in explaining why the group's representatives had suspended their membership.

Kamal Hamdoun, a Sunni member, said the remaining 12 of the original 15 members would meet Thursday with Sunni leaders to decide what to do.

"Our membership has been suspended temporarily until tomorrow when we meet the committee that chose us," he said. "We don't have security."

Drawing Sunni Arabs onto the body was the cornerstone of the U.S.-backed strategy to persuade members of the restive minority to move from the streets into peaceful politics.

Extra Sunni members joined the committee last month, making it the first nationwide political body to include significant Sunni representation since the new government, led by Shiites and Kurds, took office in April.

Hours before Tuesday's killings, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, said he hoped the draft constitution could be ready early -- by the end of this month -- if Sunni concerns could be addressed.

Also on Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an army recruiting center in central Baghdad, killing at least 10 people.

(AP, Reuters)