Audit of Iraq's constitutional referendum nearly finished

Nine days after Iraq's landmark constitutional referendum, the Election Commission said Monday that its audit of the results is continuing in a key pr

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October 24, 2005 17:21
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Nine days after Iraq's landmark constitutional referendum, the Election Commission said Monday that its audit of the results is continuing in a key province that will determine the final outcome. Many Sunni Arabs oppose the draft document, believing it would divide Iraq into three competing regions, but to defeat the constitution the minority needs to produce a two-thirds "no" vote in three of the four provinces of Iraq where they have significant numbers. So far, they have done that in the provinces of Salahuddin and Anbar, but failed to muster enough "no" votes in Diyala, the commission said at a news conference. Therefore, the final outcome will be determined in Ninevah province, where the vote totals have not been announced yet. Iraq's other 14 provinces have Kurdish or Shiite majorities that have broadly supported the constitution with "yes" votes. The commission said its audit - which so far has found no fraud - will now be completed in the provinces of Ninevah, Basra, Irbil and Babil, and that the final results of the referendum will probably be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday. If approved, the constitution would be another major step in the country's democratic transformation, clearing the way for the election of a new Iraqi parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are considered important in any decision about the future withdrawal of US-led forces from Iraq.

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