Indications crucial Iraqi province leaning toward 'yes' vote
Sunni-majority provinces play major role in fate of draft constitution
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Voters in Diyala province -- the district north of Baghdad with a majority Sunni Arab population -- are backing the country's draft constitution, according to early figures released from last week's referendum on the law.
This is a significant development because of the Sunni Arab opposition to the proposed constitution, and a good sign for those who support the legal document, which has widespread backing from Shiites and Kurds.
Fareed Ayar, spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, told CNN that the numbers released on Saturday represent about 34 percent of those who voted in the referendum.
Officials said more than 51 percent of the voters in Sunni-dominated Diyala province cast votes for the new law and more than 48 percent voted against it.
Another key figure came from Salaheddin province, also Sunni-dominated. In the home province of former dictator Saddam Hussein, 81 percent of the voters cast "no" ballots and 18 percent voted "yes."
That is significant because the legal framework Iraq is now using dictates that the proposed constitution will fail if two-thirds of the voters in three or more provinces reject it.
Figures for two other provinces with significant Sunni Arab populations -- Anbar and Nineveh -- have not been released. If those provinces turn up "no" votes that surpass two-thirds, the measure will fail.
Figures for Irbil, Basra and Babil also were not issued.
Election officials explained why figures have not been issued for the five provinces. Four provinces are conducting field audits, and in Anbar voting data is still being compiled. They said they expect to release preliminary results early next week.
Here are the results issued Saturday in 13 provinces:
The results show that Shiite- and Kurdish-dominated provinces cast high numbers of "yes" votes -- results that were expected.
"These results are not a demographically significant sample of all polling stations so they cannot be used to predict the final outcome of the referendum," election officials cautioned.
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