Saturday, October 15, 2005

Iraq vote turnout may exceed 10 million. Turnout in Iraq's constitutional referendum may have reached 10 million voters, or nearly two thirds of those registered, a member of Iraq's Electoral Commission said after polls closed. "I think it could be more than 10 million, I think, I hope," Farid Ayar, one of seven commissioners on the Electoral Commission, said on Saturday. "I was thinking that maybe we could get around 11 million voters. But Iraqis are getting more used to going and voting now, so perhaps it was a little bit quieter ... and it was Ramadan," he said, referring to the Muslim fasting month. If 10 million of the eligible 15.5 million voters cast ballots, that would give a turnout of around 65%, higher than the 58% recorded in January's election, the first held after Saddam Hussein's overthrow.

Ten people working for the independent Iraqi electoral commission have been abducted during the constitutional referendum in the restive Sunni al-Anbar province, the commission said.

Baghdad Sunnis say 'No' to charter. Bitter emotions in al-Aadhamiya left few doubts that whoever leads Iraq after December elections has a long way to go to win over the trust of the Sunni community. Sunnis interviewed in other parts of Baghdad were divided over the constitution, some voting "Yes" and others "No". But there were no mixed signals in the capital's Sunni heartland fiercely opposed to the charter drafted by Shia and Kurdish leaders. The mood in the al-Aadhamiya district of the capital on Saturday contrasted sharply with other areas, even nearby Sunni districts. "Of course I am voting 'No'," said Muhammad Hasan. "This document neglects the Sunnis and it just helps the Shia. We want a united Iraq , not one that is carved up into federal states."