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Iraqi Voters Prepare To Vote On Constitution

Iraqi Voters Prepare To Determine Fate of Proposed Constitution

National referendum on draft document scheduled for October 15

Washington – Iraqi voters will go to the polls October 15 to determine the fate of the draft constitution proposed by the Transitional National Assembly (TNA) in late August.

The TNA arrived at an agreement on the document following months of intensive discussions about the nature of the future Iraqi state and the appropriate relationship between the Iraqi citizens and their government.

The constitution outlines the civic and political rights and freedoms of Iraqi citizens and defines the responsibilities of legislative, executive and judicial authorities at both the federal and regional levels. Voters received copies of the document in early October to review its provisions before casting ballots in the referendum. In a September opinion poll conducted on behalf of the International Republican Institute, 85 percent of Iraqis indicated that they intend to vote in the referendum.

The constitution will be adopted if a majority of Iraqi voters approve it and assuming it is not rejected by a two-thirds majority in three or more of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

If it is approved, the document will serve as the basis for a new round of balloting December 15 to select Iraq’s first democratically elected constitutional government. If the voters reject the document, the TNA will be dissolved, and the December 15 elections will serve to select a new national assembly charged with drafting another constitutional proposal.

On a September 13 visit to the United States, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani praised the protections guaranteed in the draft constitution.

“It is true we are a young democracy, but our draft constitution has a bill of rights, ensures the equality of all Iraqis -- regardless of their gender, creed, religion, or ethnicity. It enshrines the separation of powers, and involves many checks and balances on the exercise of power,” he said following his meeting with President Bush.

Bush called the document “an historic milestone” and said, “It calls for a federal system of government, which is essential to preserving the unity of a diverse nation like Iraq.”

For additional information, see Iraq’s Political Process.

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