Little violence as Iraqis vote on charter
Updated: 2005-10-16 08:51
Sunni Arabs voted in surprisingly high numbers on Iraq's new constitution
Saturday, many of them hoping to defeat it in an intense competition with
Shiites and Kurds over the shape of the nation's young democracy after decades
of dictatorship. With little violence, turnout was more than 66 percent in the
three most crucial provinces.
The constitution still seemed likely to pass, as expected. But the large
Sunni turnout made it possible that the vote would be close or even go the other
way, and late Saturday it appeared at least two of a required three provinces
might reject it by a wide margin.
Washington hopes the constitution will be approved so that Iraqis can form a
legitimate, representative government, tame the insurgency and enable the
150,000 U.S. troops to begin to withdraw.
After polls opened at 7 a.m., whole families turned out at voting stations,
with parents carrying young children, sometimes in holiday clothes. Men and
women lined up by the hundreds in some places or kept up a constant traffic into
heavily bunkered polls, dressed in their best in suits and ties or neatly
pressed veils ¡ª or in shorts and flip-flops, weary from the day's Ramadan fast.
years old. Everything is finished for me. But I'm going to vote because I want a
good future for my children," Said Ahmad Fliha said after walking up a hill with
the help of a relative and a soldier to a polling site in Haditha, a western
A soldier stands guard on a rooftop as Iraqis
wait in long lines to vote in Iraq's referendum on the new constitution in
Mosul, Iraq, Saturday Oct. 15 2005. [AP]
Some 9 million Iraqis cast ballots, election officials said, announcing a
preliminary turnout estimate of 61 percent.
In Baghdad, men counted votes by lanterns because the electricity was out in
parts of the city. Results were written on a chalkboard. Outside, Iraqi soldiers
huddled in a courtyard, breaking their fast. Northeast of the capital, in
Baqouba, men sat around long tables, putting "yes" votes in one pile and "no"
votes in another.