Iraqi charter heading towards approval Bernard Hibbitts at 10:22 AM ET
[JURIST] US and local Iraqi sources suggested Sunday that the draft Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] was heading towards approval after initial vote counts in Saturday's referendum [JURIST report]. No formal results have as yet been issued, but local election officials described returns that would likely allow the charter to avoid defeat by two-thirds of voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces. Voters in the Sunni-dominatred provinces of Anbar and Salahaddin were still expected to reject the constitution, but figures from the "swing" province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul indicated a massive "Yes" vote there with 260 of 300 polling stations reporting. The Baghdad-based author of the Iraq the Model weblog has posted video from al-Iraqiya TV [WMP file] of Iraqi men celebrating the success of the referendum in Mosul itself. The other potentially-problematic province of Diyala, with a Sunni population of only 40%, is unlikely to muster a sufficient number of "No" votes to stop the charter. Election officials Sunday raised their turnout estimates from 61% to 63-64%, up from 58% in the January parliamentary elections. Official results from the poll are not expected until at least Monday. Approval of the Iraqi constitution means that elections for the first permanent Natinal Aeembly constituted under the document will take place December 15. AP has more.
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