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UN calls for review of Iraq referendum rules, begins distribution of constitution draft

[JURIST] The United Nations [official website] Tuesday called on Iraq's National Assembly to review recently revised rules [JURIST report] for the upcoming October 15 referendum [JURIST report] on the proposed Iraqi constitution [JURIST news archive]. The National Assembly convened Sunday and adopted an interpretation of the Transitional Administrative Law [text] that creates two different thresholds for the referendum. Under the new interpretation, only a majority of those actually voting must vote in favor of the draft, but the charter can only be defeated by a 'no' vote from two-thirds of registered voters in three or more provinces. According to a legal adviser to the UN's electoral team in Iraq, the UN has told Iraqi leaders that "the decision that was taken was not acceptable and would not meet international standards." Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, UN officials have begun distributing copies of the proposed constitution in preparation for the national referendum, with some copies having already been released in Baghdad and the southern cities of Basra and Kerbala. 4 million copies have been printed in Arabic, 250,000 in Turkoman, and 150,000 in Syriac languages. So far, there have been no reports of violence against those circulating the document. The UN is also trying to downplay a leaked internal memo [Newsweek report] which highlights the document's weaknesses and called it "a model for territorial division of the state." UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said "it should come as no surprise that within the UN staff who deal with Iraq there would be papers analyzing latest developments in that country, but it's an internal analysis." Dujarric also said that Iraqis will have to judge the constitution for themselves. AP 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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