Iraqi Constitutional Referendum- October 15, 2005

Friday October 14, 2005

Saturday, October 15,2005, Iraqis go to the polls to vote in a referendum on the country's draft constitution. The ballot will feature one question: "Do you approve the draft constitution of Iraq?" If a majority of Iraqis vote yes, or if two-thirds of the registered voters in three or more of Iraq's eighteen governorates do not vote no, then the constitution will pass into law.

- Five million copies of an early version of the draft constitution, after several delays, were distributed to Iraqis in early October along with their ration cards.

- Any Iraqi citizen can vote if they are: legally competent, over the age of eighteen, and registered to vote by the mid-September deadline. Of Iraq's 27 million people, roughly 14.2 million are eligible to vote. Unlike the January 30 elections for the transitional National Assembly, none of the nearly two million eligible Iraqi nationals living outside of Iraq's borders will be allowed to cast ballots.

- If the referendum passes, the document will be ratified and passed into law. Elections for a permanent government will then be held December 15, and the new government will assume office no later than December 31.

- If the constitution is rejected, the National Assembly must be dissolved and elections for a second transitional National Assembly must be held by December 15. Then the drafting process will start again. A second draft must be completed by August 15, 2006, and a second referendum held by October 15, 2006.

- Six international observer groups have accredited nearly 500 observers for the referendum. Among those in Iraq monitoring the upcoming referendum are representatives from Arab nongovernmental organizations and the Arab League--a first for Iraq--as well as U.S.-based election watchdog groups.

- The United States, in addition to providing election monitors and securing Sunni-dominant provinces, has also provided constitutional scholars to assist in the drafting of the document and urged Shiites to revise language on religion and federalism, in last-ditch efforts to appease Sunni leaders.

- More than 200,000 Iraqi security forces will be in place to protect voters when they go to the polls. Additionally, the 48th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers will assist Iraqi security forces in securing the polling sites in the neighborhoods of southwest Baghdad.

- Operation Unity, which began Sept. 29 and continues in Baghdad, is focused directly on security for voters. More than 20,000 troops from Iraq's Ministry of Interior and six brigades from the Ministry of Defense are participating, as well as coalition forces.

See ARNEWS article

Source: Council on Foreign Relations

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SENIOR LEADERS ARE SAYING

Because of (the Soldiers) service, the Army is, and will remain, the pre-eminent land power in the world today. In pitched battles at places like Samarra, An Najaf, Falluja, Tal Al Afar and Mosul, our Soldiers are defeating insurgents and giving the Iraqi people an alternative to those immoral, ruthless dictators and terrorists who sow hate and intolerance and kill innocent civilians.
Remarks from opening of AUSA

Dr. Francis J. Harvey
Secretary of the United States Army

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