Draft Constitution adopted by Iraqi voters
Updated: 2005-10-25 19:43
Iraq's landmark constitution was adopted by a majority of voters during the
country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough
support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday.
Results released by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq showed that
Sunni Arabs, who had sharply opposed the draft document, failed to produce the
two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18
provinces to defeat it.
Nationwide, 78.59 percent voted for the charter while 21.41 percent voted
against, the commission said. The charter required a simple majority nationwide
with the provision that if two-thirds of the voters in any three provinces
rejected it, the constitution would be defeated.
"Whatever the results of the referendum are ... it is a civilized step that
aims to put Iraq on the path of true democracy," Farid Ayar, an official with
the electoral commission, said before reading the final results.
Two mostly Sunni Arab provinces — Salahuddin and Anbar — had voted against
the constitution by at least a two-thirds vote. The commission, which had been
auditing the referendum results for 10 days, said a third province where many
Sunnis live — Ninevah — produced a "no" vote of only 55 percent.
Ninevah had been a focus of fraud allegations since preliminary results
showed a large majority of voters had approved the constitution, despite a large
Sunni Arab population there.
Election commission officials and U.N. officials, who also took part in the
audit, "found no cases of fraud that could affect the results of the vote," Ayar
The constitution, which many Kurds and majority Shiites strongly support, is
considered 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
U.S.-led forces from Iraq.
Many Sunni Arabs fear that the constitution will create two virtually
autonomous and oil-rich mini-states of Kurds in the north and Sunnis in the
south, while leaving many Sunnis isolated in poor central and western regions
with a weak central government in Baghdad.
Some fear that the Sunni Arab loss in the referendum could influence more of
them to join or support Sunni-led insurgents who are launching attacks across
the country against Iraq's mostly Shiite and Kurdish government and U.S.-led