election commission announced that officials were investigating "unusually high" numbers of "yes" votes in about a dozen provinces during Iraq's landmark referendum on a new constitution, raising questions about irregularities in the balloting.
Word of the review came Monday as Sunni Arab leaders repeated accusations of fraud after initial reports from the provinces suggested the constitution had passed. Among the Sunni allegations are that police took ballot boxes from heavily "no" districts, and that some "yes" areas had more votes than registered voters.
The Electoral Commission made no mention of fraud, and an official with knowledge of the election process cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual numbers were incorrect or if they would affect the outcome.
But questions about the numbers raised tensions over Saturday's referendum, which has already sharply divided Iraqis. Most of the Shiite majority and the Kurds - the coalition which controls the government - support the charter, while most Sunni Arabs sharply opposed a document they fear will tear Iraq to pieces and leave them weak and out of power.