As Iraqis came to terms with the latest car bombing to rock Baghdad on 17 August, the country’s political leadership missed their first political deadline and started working towards 22 August to reach agreement on the draft constitution.

Significantly, the parties have tentatively negotiated a deal to divide the country’s oil revenues between the central government and the 18 provinces. The main stumbling block now appears to be who will control the revenues.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari is upbeat on the remainder of the issues. That was possibly backed up by the outburst of applause as Iraqi lawmakers opted to postpone the deadline. On 17 August he reiterated that details still needed to be fleshed out, but on the whole, the primary differences had been resolved. Nevertheless, questions still remain unanswered.

Top of the list is the role of Islam in determining law. Meanwhile, the Kurds’ growing desire for independence has once again put the level of autonomy for each regional government to the top of the agenda.

With each group jostling for position and hardening their stance, the seven-day deadline may be tough to meet. However, while the likes of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and US ambassador to Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad insisted on sweeping the various differences to one side to meet the deadline, the postponement to negotiate a more conclusive deal rather than a symbolic one does bode well.

In addition, 300 constitutional conferences have been held across the country, enabling more than 50,000 people to contribute to the discussion.

The decisiveness of the prime minister has also been in evidence after he authorised the execution of the first three men sentenced to death in Iraq since capital punishment was restored in 2004. If this resoluteness is anything to go by, then Iraq’s leaders may well draft the constitution by 22 August and be on course for the referendum set for 15 October.