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Iraq

Final tally: Yes

Associated Press
Published October 26, 2005


BAGHDAD - Iraq's election commission declared Tuesday that final results from the Oct. 15 referendum show the new constitution was ratified by a huge margin, paving the way for elections. Sunni Arab leaders raised doubts that it would be embraced by those at the heart of the insurgency.

The Bush administration hopes the constitution will help bring disaffected Sunni Arabs, the foundation of the insurgency, into the political process, enabling the United States and its partners to begin bringing troops home.

Nearly 79 percent of the 9.8-million voters nationwide supported the charter, the Independent Election Commission announced after a 10-day audit following allegations of fraud. Election official Farid Ayar said the audit turned up no significant fraud, despite allegations by Sunnis opposed to the charter.

CONSTITUTION AT A GLANCE

GOVERNMENT

"The Republic of Iraq is an independent, sovereign state. Its system of government is republican, representative (parliamentary), democratic and federal." The Baath Party and other groups promoting racism, terrorism or ethnic cleansing are banned.

REGIONAL AUTONOMY

The Kurdish area of northeast Iraq and its regional government is recognized. More autonomous regions can be approved in the future.

INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS

Iraqis have equal rights under the law, regardless of religion, sex or ethnic background. Among those rights are liberty, equal opportunity, security, personal privacy and privacy in the home. The state guarantees freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and freedom of assembly.

ISLAM

Islam "is the official religion of the state" and "a fundamental source of legislation." No law may be enacted that "contradicts the established provisions of Islam" or "contradicts the principles of democracy." Full religious rights are guaranteed to minorities. No law that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms stipulated in the constitution may be established.

NATIONAL IDENTITY

Iraq is "a country of many nationalities, religions and sects," language inserted to satisfy non-Arab Kurds and Christians. Iraq also is declared "part of the Islamic world" and "a founding and active member of the Arab League," wording to ease Sunni fears that the charter would dilute Iraq's Arab identity.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS

Men and women have the right to "participate in public affairs," vote and hold public office. Women are guaranteed one-fourth of Parliament seats. However, some women fear language granting a major role for Islamic law will erode their rights in such areas as divorce and inheritance.

OIL WEALTH

Management of current fields must assure "balanced development" throughout the country; new fields must be managed to achieve "the highest benefit to the Iraqi people." Still, some Sunnis fear most oil revenue will go to Shiite and Kurdish areas, where most of Iraq's oil fields are.

AMENDMENTS

A parliamentary committee will consider amendments during the first four months of the next legislative session, a provision added to encourage the Sunni Arab minority to end its insurgency and take part in politics. Amendments need approval by a simple majority in Parliament before going to popular referendum.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Iraq will choose a new Parliament in national elections Dec. 15. The legislature will then choose a new government, which must take office by Dec. 31. New election rules should result in more Sunni Arab representation in Parliament than they have now. The new Parliament will be charged with passing something between 50 and 60 pieces of legislation to fill in the holes in the constitution.

Sources: Associated Press, USA Today, National Public Radio

[Last modified October 26, 2005, 00:46:05]


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