Bush hails Iraq constitution vote
Sunnis voted in high numbers on Iraq's new constitution Saturday, many of them hoping to defeat it. Most Sunnis appeared to be voting "no" even after one major party, the Iraqi Islamic Party, declared its support in the draft. Despite this, the constitution seemed assured of passage Sunday. On his part, US President Bush hailed the vote as a victory for opponents of "terrorism."
"The vote today in Iraq is in stark contrast to the attitude, the philosophy and strategy of al-Qaeda, their terrorist friends and killers," Bush said.
According to the AP, turnout was more than 66 percent in the three most crucial provinces. The constitution still seemed likely to pass, as expected.
Early Sunday, armed men fired two mortar rounds at central Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone where Iraq's parliament and the U.S. Embassy are based, U.S. Embassy spokesman Vicki Stein said. There were no injuries or significant damage, she added.
The mortars were fired from nearby Dora, one of the most violent neighborhoods of the capital, said Iraqi police 1st Lt. Thair Mahmoud. The attacks were reported shortly after officials lifted a countrywide ban on all civilian traffic that was aimed at preventing suicide car bombs during Saturday's voting.
In order to foil the constitution Sunnis must get a two-thirds "no" vote in any three of Iraq's 18 provinces. They were likely to reach that bar in the Anbar province in the west. They must snatch the two others among the provinces of Salahuddin, Ninevah or Diyala, north of Baghdad.
By late Saturday, Salahuddin appeared to be nearing a two-thirds "no" vote after an overwhelming showing at the polls in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, where some election officials said 90 percent of the voters cast ballots. There were no figures on Ninevah or Diyala.