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Iraqi Sunnis accuse Shiites, Kurds of rigging constitution referendum

[JURIST] Sunni Arabs and independent politicians Monday slammed efforts by Shiites and Kurds that will make it much more difficult to defeat the draft Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive] in the October 15 referendum [JURIST report]. In a parliamentary session Sunday the Shiite and Kurd majority in the National Assembly voted to interpret Iraq's interim constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law [text], as creating two different "thresholds" for the referendum. In order for the constitution to pass, a majority of those actually voting across Iraq have to say "Yes," but the lawmakers agreed that a defeat will only occur if two-thirds of the registered voters (as opposed to actual voters) in three or more provinces vote "No", meaning in practice that a low turnout of predominantly "No" voters in Sunni-dominated areas may not be enough to turn back the charter. A member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq [official website, English version] in charge of organizing the referendum said the interim constitution "clearly intended to define voters in the referendum as those who turn out to vote, not registered voters," and one independent Kurdish member called the interpretation by parliament a "double standard." Saleh al-Mutlaq, a spokesman for the Sunni Iraqi National Dialogue, who also helped write the draft constitution, said, "It is a clear forgery. They want this constitution to pass despite the will of the people." Mutlaq said he and other Sunnis may plan to boycott the referendum. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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