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Iraq has a Constitution

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    Posted: 26 October 2005 at 9:46am


Iraqi constitution yes vote approved by UN

Jonathan Steele
Wednesday October 26, 2005
The Guardian

Iraqi voters adopted the country's new constitution in spite of heavy opposition in Sunni Arab areas, Iraqi and United Nations officials announced yesterday. The result was delayed by more than a week after officials said preliminary results showed an "unusually high" number of yes votes but, after checking, the election commission said it was satisfied the constitution had passed.

The results underlined Iraq's growing sectarian and ethnic polarisation, with huge yes votes recorded from Shiites and Kurds and massive no votes from Sunni Arabs. In what analysts saw as a sign of anger at the Kurdish role in promoting a constitution that hands power from Baghdad to the provinces, a car bomb killed nine people yesterday in Sulaimaniya, one of the main Kurdish cities. The city has been a haven of peace for the last two years as tension has mounted elsewhere, and many Iraqis from Baghdad and the south have been going there for holidays to escape the violence.

Iraq's electoral commission said 79% of voters backed the constitution against 21% who were opposed. A national majority of more than 50% was required to ratify the constitution. It could be rejected if two-thirds of voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces voted no. This happened in the largely Sunni Arab areas of Anbar and Salaheddin, but in Nineveh, which contains the mixed city of Mosul, only 55% voted no, according to the election commission. In Diyala, another mixed province, 49% voted no.

Sunni Arab members of the constitution's drafting committee denounced the result as rigged. "I have just prayed to God that he will expose the truth about what is happening in Iraq. We all know that this referendum was fraud conducted by an electoral commission that is not independent," said Hussein al-Falluji.

Saleh al-Mutlaq, another member of the committee, called the referendum a farce and accused government forces of stealing ballot boxes to reduce the percentage of no votes in several provinces. "The people were shocked to find out that their vote is worthless because of the major fraud that takes place in Iraq," he said on Al-Arabiya TV.

Last week he said soldiers broke into a polling station in a Sunni district of the city of Baqouba in Diyala province and took ballot boxes heavy with no votes and that later results showed a yes majority. Meshaan al-Jubouri, a Sunni Arab member of the national assembly, said polling officials in Nineveh had informed him Mosul had voted no by as much as 80% while the commission reported a 50-50 split.

Carina Perelli, who heads the UN election team providing technical assistance to the Iraqi government, said she was confident the election had not been fixed: "The result is accurate. It has been checked according to the processes that we all follow when we have elections," she said. "Iraq should be proud of the election commission."

The result gives President Bush a political boost by paving the way for national elections on December 15, the next milestone in his effort to show progress towards democracy in Iraq. But many observers fear the constitution will undermine Iraq as a state. It minimises the role of the army by devolving security to local militias, is obscure about who is in charge of taxation, leaves oil revenues to the provinces and allows local religious authorities the final say on family matters. The state will only have control over "current" oil production; future development can be sold to foreign companies.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pb125 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 October 2005 at 9:57am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Funky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 October 2005 at 10:15am
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