Iraq: Shi'ites call for Basra to be a mini-state

Two Shi'ite lawmakers have called for a referendum on turning the southern oil-rich province of Basra into a mini-state. The push signals a renewed effort to allow regions self-rule in what would be a federalist system of government. Sunnis have opposed such moves fearing they could lead to the country's eventual break up or isolate them from oil wealth concentrated in the mainly Shiite and Kurdish areas. Lawmaker Wail Abdul-Latif said Saturday that Iraq's political process will "see more chances for stability" with such regions. He told reporters that signatures are being collected in Basra to back a request for a referendum on the subject.