Iraqi voters have approved the country’s new draft constitution. The Electoral Commission has released the final results from the referendum that took place in mid-October showing that 79 percent backed the treaty. The result now paves the way for a parliamentary poll that is due to take place in December. The poll could have been blocked if “No” campaigners had gained two thirds of the ballot in at least three provinces. They managed two: Anbar and Salahaddin.
Nineveh, a swing state, returned a “Yes” vote. The result is a boost for the US and Iraqi governments who hope it will help restore democracy and peace to the war-torn country. That sentiment was echoed on the streets of the capital. “Many congratulations to the Iraqi people on the success of the constitution, I congratulate myself and all my people on this great occasion,” said one Baghdad resident. Another man added: “Today is a great day of joy for the Iraqis over the Yes vote because it is a blow to terrorism. We defied all the hardships and all those who plot against Iraq.” While the vote is seen as an important milestone for Iraq, it is feared the result could spark further violence. Though Kurds and majority Shi’ites strongly support the treaty, many Sunni Arabs fear it will deprive them of access to Iraq’s oil wealth. There is concern that the result will enrage Sunni hardliners and incite new waves of insurgent attacks.