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Iraq's Constitution Adopted by Voters

Iraq's Constitution Is Adopted; Two Marines Reported Killed As U.S. Death Toll Nears 2,000

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, right, and Director General of the Foreign and Commonwealth office John Sawers, meet journalists following their meeting in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2005. Iraq's landmark constitution was adopted by a majority of voters during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Samir Mizban)

By THOMAS WAGNER

BAGHDAD, Iraq Oct 25, 2005 (AP)— Iraq's constitution was adopted by a majority in a fair vote during the Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. A prominent Sunni politician called the balloting "a farce."

The U.S. military announced the deaths of two Marines in fighting with insurgents last week in Baghdad, bringing to 1,999 the number of American service members killed since the war started in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The referendum results, announced after a 10-day audit following allegations of fraud, confirmed previous indications that Sunni Arabs failed to produce the two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat the constitution.

The charter is considered a major step in Iraq's democratic reforms, clearing the way for the election of a new, full-term parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are important in any decision about the future withdrawal of U.S.-led forces.

However, some fear the victory, which came despite a large turnout by Sunni Arabs to try to defeat it, could enrage many members of the minority and fuel their support for the country's Sunni-led insurgency.

Carina Perelli, the U.N. elections chief, praised a "very good job" with the audit of results by election officials and said "Iraq should be proud of the commission."

Iraq's top two coalition partners, the United States and Britain, also welcomed the results.

"It's a landmark day in the history of Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "We congratulate the Iraqi people. … The political process is continuing to move forward in Iraq, and it is an encouraging sign to see more and more people participating in the process."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Iraqis "have shown again their determination to defy the terrorists and take part in the democratic process."

Two suicide car bombs exploded Tuesday in the generally peaceful Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah, killing 12 people. Al-Qaida in Iraq, the country's most feared insurgent group, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on an Islamic Web site.

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