Iraq result delay over fraud fear
Iraqi election officials say the formal result of the country's vote on a new constitution will be delayed, amid accusations of fraud.
Officials said turnout from some areas seemed abnormally high and ballots needed to be double-checked.
Some Sunni Arab politicians have alleged that corrupt practices were allowed to boost the Yes vote.
However monitors from the United Nations said the vote went well and that most people had been able to vote.
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq said it needed several more days to complete the count "after finding that the figures from most provinces were too high".
The commission said in some areas nearly all votes indicated a Yes, and in others a No, and that in such circumstances the ballots would have to be audited, in line with international practice.
The count was also disrupted by a sandstorm that blew up in central Iraq, preventing ballots from being flown to Baghdad for counting and slowing their progress on the roads.
The result of the referendum was originally expected later this week, but the electoral commission warned it might now be put back several days.
Unofficial results leaked out suggesting that the referendum would be endorsed.
There were indications that Shia and Kurdish areas had voted heavily for the constitution, while opponents may have got the upper hand in only two of Iraq's provinces, not the three they need to veto the charter.
The Associated Press cited an anonymous official saying that heavily Sunni Anbar and central Salahuddin provinces had rejected the treaty by the required two-thirds, but that Ninevah and Diyala, thought to have slight Sunni majorities, may have voted in favour.
Reuters also said the vote appeared to have backed the constitution, but there was no official confirmation.
Saleh al-Mutlaq, a prominent Sunni Arab politician, alleged vote-rigging in Diyala, saying soldiers had removed ballot boxes and that there had been more votes cast than registered electors.
However, there was international approval that the vote went ahead relatively peacefully, and that turnout was high, even in Sunni areas where some groups urged a boycott.
US President George W Bush called the high participation "a positive development", and said it showed that "people are willing to try to work out their political differences through a process, a peaceful process".
One place where few people appeared to have voted was Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where militant activity has been high.
US helicopters and warplanes bombed villages near the town on Sunday, killing about 70 militants, the US military said, though eye-witnesses said many of the dead were civilians.
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