Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Iraq after the referendum

Another corner turned with this month's referendum in Iraq? No, not quite, at least if you're talking about the virulence of the insurgency.

And how's the vote counting going? Amidst allegations of fraud, two provinces have voted the constitution down. A third would be needed for a complete scrapping of the government and, in essence, a painful do-over. As the BBC reports:

It seems Sunni voters did turn out in large numbers and two provinces - Al Anbar and Salahaddin - are widely believed to have rejected the constitution.

The result from a third Sunni-dominated province, Nineveh, could therefore determine the fate of the constitution.

In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, election officials in the provincial capital, Mosul, were quoted by an international news agency as saying the "Yes" vote had won by a huge majority.

This left most impartial observers perplexed and perturbed.

One Western journalist who had been based there during the referendum described it as "totally ridiculous".

Now the word on the street seems to be that the majority in fact voted "No", but it is not clear if it was by two-thirds or if it fell short of this critical threshold.

Nineveh is one of the provinces under investigation by election officials. They are looking at voting procedures, the ballot boxes and the ballot papers to ensure there were no mistakes or fraud.

The pressure on the election commission to call the correct result from the referendum is intense.
FUBAR'd. Whatever the outcome, there will likely be allegations of illegitimacy.

And as this Knight Ridder report suggests, even the passage of the constitution may do little to halt Iraq's dissolution.