- The Washington Times - Friday, August 26, 2005

BAGHDAD — As politicians wrestled inconclusively with the text of Iraq’s draft constitution, residents of Baghdad were debating a far more immediate issue: the safety of sleeping on the roof.

Callers to the city’s talk radio shows focused on the daily challenges of life in Baghdad: the violence, the dirty gasoline that is wrecking car engines and two years of power shortages.

On Radio Tigris, the topic of the day was where to sleep to escape the 114-degree heat.

The shortage of electricity has meant limited air conditioning, forcing many to sleep outside. But there was concern about falling bullets and shrapnel.

“We heard an American plane bombed a hotel. The heat hurts our bones and we prefer the roof. What can we do?” Om Haneen asked.

Another caller complained that the five families living in a block of apartments could not all fit on their roof and that those forced to sleep in the garden were plagued by rats that “seemed bigger than cats.”

The only mention of the constitutional discussions came in government advertisements, which promised “justice and sovereignty” and congratulated the delegates who had drafted it.

The congratulations appeared premature again yesterday as the country’s majority Shi’ites awaited a response from Sunni Arabs to what they said was a final compromise offer to break the impasse over the draft charter.

One radio station was advising its listeners not to think of the constitutional impasse because it would only make them angry.

In Baghdad, a shop owner said the weeks of delay meant he was sick of the whole process.

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