Iraqi vote remains in doubt

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Amid concerns of electoral fraud, preliminary results now indicate the province of Nineveh will be the "swing province" deciding the fate of Iraq's constitutional referendum. On October 15, a reported 64% of eligible Iraqis voted in the referendum on the draft Iraqi constitution. One week later, preliminary results are available for fourteen of the eighteen provinces. Two of Iraq's 18 provinces have returned "No" votes, making Nineveh the third and deciding province that could veto the new U.S.-backed charter if rejected by more than a two thirds majority of voters.

Despite a last minute compromise achieved with one political party representing Sunni Arabs, Sunni voters appear to be rejecting the proposed charter by a wide margin. In Anbar, heartland of the insurgency, 96 percent voted "No" and in Salahaddin 81 percent voted "No", according to preliminary results. Nineveh is more ethnically mixed, but still mainly Sunni, and is at the center of fraud concerns when initial tallies of the overall vote appeared to swing wildly

Election officials caution that these preliminary results should not be construed as forecasts, as the ethnic diversity of those who actually voted may not be represented in these preliminary numbers.