Iraqis accept constitution

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

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Iraqi voters have accepted the draft constitution, the Independent Electoral Commission announced Tuesday. 78% voted in favor, 21% against. Two, mostly Sunni, provinces rejected the constitution with a two-thirds majority; three rejections by provinces by two-thirds majorities would have caused the constitution to fail.

Voters in the provinces of Anbar and Salahuddin overwhelmingly opposed the draft, casting 97% and 82% "No" respectively. The deciding swing-province in the referendum was Nineveh. While 55% of the voters in the predominately Sunni province opposed the constitution, that was below the 66% threshold necessary to bring the draft to a halt.

Electoral Commission official Farid Ayar called the vote "100% correct" and said that there were "no cases of fraud that could affect the results of the vote".

But the Sunni official Saleh al-Mutlaq said the referendum was a "farce" and accused the government of stealing ballot boxes in areas where most people voted "No".

Observers from the United Nations dispute that statement. A senior official, Carina Perelli, said the result is "accurate" and that it was checked by her organisation.

The voting turnout was 9.85 million votes, or 63% of eligible voters. This was one million more votes than cast in the interim government election held in January.

Parliamentary elections are now scheduled for December 15, 2005.

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