BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq’s proposed constitution won voters’ approval, election officials announced Tuesday, even as the results showed that the minority Sunni Muslim Arabs overwhelmingly rejected the document, which was billed as a consensus-building charter.
The split constitutional vote left some wondering whether the document would succeed in drawing Sunni Arabs into the political process and away from the violent insurgency, as Iraqi and U.S. officials had hoped.
In largely homogenous Shiite Muslim provinces, up to 99 percent of voters approved the document. In Anbar, a Sunni stronghold, 97 percent rejected it.
Overall, 78.59 percent of voters approved the document, the Independent Electoral Commission said.
Allegations of fraud, particularly among those who rejected the document, began to build during the unexpectedly long 10-day vote count. Some Sunnis said they were worried that the government would fix future elections.
“The elections were faked,” Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni member of the constitutional drafting committee, said in a television interview. “The Iraqi is devastated. He knows his vote is worthless.”
Election officials and international observers dismissed any suggestion of impropriety, saying there were several safeguards – including international monitors supervising the counting – to maintain the integrity of the results. They said it took 10 days to release the results because they were double-checking the numbers.
To defeat the constitution, two-thirds of voters in three of Iraq’s 18 provinces had to reject it. On Monday, elections officials announced that two Sunni provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin (81.75 percent) had voted “no.”
That left Ninevah, an ethnically mixed northern province, with a deciding role. A majority there – 55 percent – voted “no,” but failed to meet the 66 percent requirement spelled out in the interim constitution.
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