BAGHDAD,(Reuters) – Iraqis have ratified their new constitution, the results of a referendum showed on Tuesday.
Electoral Commission officials told a news conference 78 percent of voters backed the charter and 21 percent opposed it.
Of 18 provinces, only two recorded "No" votes greater than two thirds, one province short of a veto. Turnout in the Oct. 15 referendum was 63 percent, commission officials had said previously.
U.S. officials sponsoring the political process had described the turnout, in which many of the disaffected Sunni Arab minority took part, as a success for Iraqi democracy.
Although a big "Yes" vote was expected across the country, given support for the charter from the Shi”ite majority and their Kurdish allies in government, the outcome was in doubt to the last because of the risk of a regional blocking vote in provinces with big Sunni Arab populations.
Two provinces had already been confirmed to have voted heavily "No" -96 percent in the insurgent stronghold of Anbar and 81 percent in Saddam Hussein”s home region of Salahaddin. But the final results announced on Tuesday showed that a third, "swing", province of Nineveh, had voted by only 55 percent against the constitution, short of a two-thirds majority.
No other province returned a "No" majority.
Under the rules, the charter would not have been ratified if three provinces voted by at least two-thirds against it.
A parliamentary election scheduled for Dec. 15 will now elect a parliament with full constitutional powers for four years. Had the charter been blocked, parliament would have had only interim powers for a year while it drew up another draft constitution.