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Iraq Goes into Election Mode Ahead of Saturday Referendum

  • VOA News

A four-day-long public holiday began in Iraq today - Thursday, ahead of Saturday's referendum on a new constitution.

New checkpoints and concrete security barriers began appearing near polling stations, and officials said a 6 p.m.-to 6 a.m.-curfew would begin tonight. Friday, Iraq will close its borders and cars will be banned from the roads.

Meanwhile, Iraqi detainees who have not been convicted of a crime, as well as hospital patients, began casting their ballots today, ahead of the nationwide vote.

About 15.5 million Iraqis are eligible to vote. Late Wednesday, parliament approved a deal designed to win support from Sunni Arabs, who have generally been against the constitution because they fear its provisions will divide the country. But many Sunni groups say they will still vote "no."

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