The Iraqi people have a new constitution. Over nine-million-eight-hundred-thousand Iraqis cast their ballots in the referendum with seventy-eight-point-five percent voting in favor of the draft document. To be defeated, the constitution had to be rejected by two-thirds of voters in three or more of Iraq's eighteen provinces.
Voters in the mostly Sunni Muslim provinces of al-Anbar and Salah ad-Din rejected the constitution by ninety-seven and eighty-two percent, respectively. In Ninawa, fifty-five percent of the people voted no, but the threshold for rejection was sixty-six-point-six percent. However, there was greater voter turnout in these provinces. For example, in Ninawa, voter turn-out was two-hundred-fifty-seven percent higher than in the January elections.
Farid Ayar, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, says the referendum is "an accomplishment for all the Iraqis because when Iraqis practice democratic rights, they are using mind and reason instead of violence and weapons."
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the Iraqi people have taken an important step "toward building a democratic political order":
"This is a landmark moment for Iraq. It places Iraq in the vanguard of nations in the broader Middle East, moving toward a system of government that is based on the will of the people that will respect the rights of all individuals."
"Success in Iraq depends on whether the Iraqi leaders can agree on. . . .a vision for a new Iraq that has the support of Iraq's communities," says Ambassador Khalilzad. "Ratification of the constitution," he says, "signals major progress towards that goal":
"In negotiating the constitution, Iraqis on all sides of all major issues worked towards compromise. Sometimes the talks were difficult. Some of the compromises did not come easily. We can take heart that the process of overcoming differences through negotiations, not conflict, has begun to take root."
Ambassador Khalilzad says, "There were no winners or losers among the Iraqi people. By casting his or her vote, every Iraqi was winning a victory for democracy in Iraq. The only losers," he says, "were the terrorists."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.