"I was truly thrilled and overwhelmed with joy when I heard that the constitution was approved, and I congratulate all Iraqis on this occasion," said Ibrahim Issam, 28, a Sunni chemical engineer, whose opinion was at odds with Sunni negotiators who rejected the draft on Sunday.

But Issam said he was pleased because Iraqis now have a legal basis to organise their lives and will be able to restore security and,  in time, live a normal life.

"If something wrong was inside the text, I am sure that free Iraqis will choose the right thing on October's referendum," Issam said.

Iraqis are scheduled to vote in a referendum on the constitution on 15 October, to say whether they accept it.

Power and water

For Khansaa Dawoud, 62, said the main concern was the government's inability to provide basic services such as water and electricity.

Iraqi Arabs in Kirkuk protest over
the constitution on Friday

The retired teacher, who was shopping in Baghdad's central district of Karradah, criticized the document that she said will divide Iraq.

"Thank God few Iraqis have electricity to watch the nonsense. What kind of a constitution they are trying to draft?" asked Dawoud, a Shia. Echoing the position of Sunni constitutional negotiators, she said federalism would fragment Iraq.

"It appears that they are writing it for themselves to fulfill their desires and not the aspirations of the Iraqi people."

Rights

In the Kurdish town of Sulaimaniyah, 260km northeast of Baghdad, Serwan Ahmad, 25-year-old university student, said he thinks the draft is good because Kurdish leaders approved it.

This means "the rights or the Kurds and other ethnic groups are preserved in the constitution", he said.

A member of the constitution panel
browses through a copy of the draft

The government plans to distribute five million copies of the constitution nationwide in food allotments each Iraqi family receives monthly from the government.

Sundus Abdul Wahid, a 40-year-old housewife, said she needs to see the draft before deciding.

"I heard that they approved it, but unless the Iraqis see it with their own eyes and study it, we cannot judge for the time being. I cannot tell, but I wish that this constitution will serve the Iraqis and achieve their aspirations," said the Shia woman.