Despite fears of fresh bombings, Iraqis have slowly been heading to polling stations to take part in a historic referendum on a new constitution.
The government hopes the new charter will help heal the deep ethnic divisions in the country. However, much depends on the minority Sunni Arabs. They make up 20 percent of Iraq’s population and most are believed to be against the constitution. There has been widespread bloodshed in the days leading up to today’s vote and thousands of American and Iraqi forces are out in force to reassure voters and stop any insurgents set on blowing themselves up in front of polling stations. The security services are so nervous about car bombs few people are being allowed to drive around Baghdad today. Iraq’s leaders, keen to get to wary voters out to the polls, voted early. President Jalal Talabani was one of the first to cast his vote in Baghdad and the Prime Minister followed suit soon after. Results from the referendum are expected as early as tomorrow.