Referendum News, October 16, 2005
Juan Cole says that Sunni Arabs have rejected the constitution. Well it remains to be seen what the final result will be; however here are some news snippets that I managed to find this morning.
: Sunni Arabs voted in surprisingly high numbers, many of them hoping to defeat it in an intense competition with Shia and Kurds. The higher-than-forecast Sunni turnout made it possible the vote would be close - or even go the other way - and cast doubt on US hopes that the charter would succeed in moving Sunnis away from the ongoing violence. The bar to defeat the constitution is high: The opponents must get a two-thirds vote in any three of Iraq's 18 provinces. They are likely to reach that threshold in the vast Sunni heartland of al-Anbar province in the west.
: 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 higher-than-forecast Sunni turnout made it possible the vote would be close - or even go the other way - and cast doubt on U.S. hopes that the charter would succeed in luring Sunnis away from the insurgency.
Associated Press - Tehran
: Publicly at least, the Islamic government here says it is neutral - and just looking for a democratic and peaceful outcome. "We hope ... a high majority of the Iraqi people will participate in the vote. Whatever the vote of the Iraqi people, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respect it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said this week. Relations between Iraq and Iran are among the most complex and contradictory in the Middle East. Each has traditionally viewed the other with a mixture of suspicion but also rarely spoken admiration
The Gulf Today
: While the US and its allies highlight the draft constitution as the only means to save Iraq, many others see the country as having already halfway along the slide to total disintegration. The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds have their own agendas in post-war Iraq. The draft constitution might serve the interests of the Shiites and Kurds, but definitely not those of the Sunnis.
: Although it was impossible to obtain turnout totals, the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq confirmed that there was high voter turnout in swing provinces, where Sunnis were believed to have mobilized their voter base, Salah al Din, Anbar and Ninewah. The officials classified provinces where turnout was 34 percent to 66 percent as having intermediate participation; and 67 percent or above as high turnout.
: In the city of Mosul, the Al-Wallah school echoed to the sound of sandals dragging across dusty flagstones as local Sunnis arrived to vote. In this well-to-do neighbourhood, occupied by military officers and Baath Party members under the former regime, they started coming as the doors opened at 7am, most determined to reject a document they say will make them second-class citizens.
: The officials, Farid Ayar and Hamdiya al-Husseini, did not have overall turnout figures or an indication of results. More than 66% of voters cast ballots in the three crucial provinces that could decide the vote – Salahuddin, Diyala and Ninevah, each of which has a Sunni majority but also significant Shiite or Kurdish populations.
: Rockets woke the powerful residents of Baghdad's Green Zone government compound shortly after dawn but there was no sign of any damage from the three routine strikes, officials said. Election officials said partial results from the vote could be available as early as Sunday, but that it would take several days for the verdict to become clear.
I'll post a news update later today.