By Quil Lawrence
BBC News, Baghdad
After 10 days of waiting, Iraq's electoral commission has announced the results of the country's constitutional referendum.
Nineveh rejected the constitution but not by a two-third majority
Across Iraq the constitution was ratified by over 78%.
But the vote was much closer than it appears - if three provinces
had rejected the draft constitution by a two-thirds
margin, it would have constituted a veto and sent the
entire process back to the drawing board.
Two Sunni Arab provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin, did
solidly reject the draft constitution.
The vote then came down to the wire in the ethnically mixed province
In the final tally today, Nineveh did vote
against the constitution, but only by about 55% -
short of the two-thirds margin for a veto.
On the day of the referendum, voters in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh, seemed to be voting strictly along ethnic lines.
Sunni Arabs there fear that the constitution gives too much autonomy to the Kurdish
North and the Shia South, and will lead to a partition of the country.
Many said they considered the constitution to be imposed by the Americans.
Many Iraqis are confident the charter will bring peace and democracy
One Sunni Islamist political party did endorse the
constitution only days before the vote, and that may
have convinced enough Sunnis to vote "Yes" and prevent
Across the country, the turnout was about 63% of
eligible voters. That included a high turnout in the
Sunni Arab provinces.
Last January Sunni Arab voters boycotted the parliamentary elections, mostly due to
threats of death from Islamist militants.
The "Yes" vote announced today clears the way for Iraq to hold
another parliamentary election in December.
Government officials are hoping that Sunnis will come
out to vote again in December, to elect a permanent government with constitutional powers and a four-year term.
Support for the constitution reached well over 90% in
the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, as well as the
Shia Arab dominated Southern provinces.
The Kurds were satisfied that the constitution adequately
guarantees their autonomy from the central
government, which has been a fact on the ground since
after the first Gulf War in 1991.
Car bombs have hit a Baghdad hotel used by foreign journalists
Shias largely took cue from their mainstream
religious leaders, who have urged them to
participate in each stage of the transitional
government process so far.
Radical Shia leader Moqtada al Sadr had urged his supporters to oppose the constitution, but it appears to have had little effect on the referendum.
Had the constitution been defeated, the drafting
process would have started all over again, delaying
the creation of a permanent government in Iraq by at
least a year.
Iraqi government officials, as well as
the US-led coalition here, say Iraq does not have
an extra year to waste as it struggles to assert
government control and rule of law across the country.
The US government is hoping the political process
will sap the strength of the insurgency, and allow
US and allied troops to begin a gradual
Despite the success of the constitution, the insurgent
violence continues in Iraq with daily attacks on
coalition military forces, Iraqi government forces and civilians.
Three massive car bombs exploded in central Baghdad on Monday.
On Tuesday, nine people were killed in a multiple car bomb attack in the
Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah.