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Sunnis threaten Iraq constitution referendum boycott over US offensives

[JURIST] Sunni Arab leaders threatened Wednesday to boycott the upcoming referendum on Iraq's draft constitution [JURIST news archive] if US troops do not stop offensive operations in western Iraq. US forces Tuesday launched their second offensive in a week [AP report] in Iraq's volatile Anbar province at the outset of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to Sunni politician Hussein la-Falluji, "if the Americans keep carrying out their offensives in [Sunni] cities and attacking civilians then we will boycott the referendum." The latest threats follow an earlier promise by Sunnis not to boycott the vote after Iraq's National Assembly earlier Wednesday reversed [JURIST report] recent changes to referendum rules that would have made it more difficult to defeat the constitution in Sunni-dominated areas.

Meanwhile a new 3,625-person poll conducted by Iraqi Centre for Development and International Dialogue has found that Iraqi citizens generally support the draft constitution [Reuters report], despite ongoing Sunni opposition. Mehdi Hafedh, director of the polling agency, attributed the draft's 79% approval rating to a desire to "finalize the political process as soon as possible ... [and] to establish a normal government and institutions." Eight percent of those polled said they would vote against the document, primarily citing broad concerns with respect to national security and sovereignty, and the remainder of the polled population did not say how they would vote. The draft constitution is scheduled to go to a nation-wide vote on October 15 and is expected to pass [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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