BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 3 - Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish leaders quietly adopted new rules over the weekend that will make it virtually impossible for the constitution to fail in the coming national referendum.
The move prompted Sunni Arabs and a range of independent political figures to complain that the vote was being fixed.
Some Sunni leaders who have been organizing a campaign to vote down the proposed constitution said they might now boycott the referendum on Oct. 15. Other political leaders also reacted angrily, saying the change would seriously damage the vote's credibility.
Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least three of the 18 provinces.
The change, adopted during an unannounced vote in Parliament on Sunday afternoon, effectively raises the bar for those who oppose the constitution. Given that fewer than 60 percent of registered Iraqis voted in the January elections, the chances that two-thirds will both show up at the polls and vote against the document in three provinces would appear to be close to nil.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's National Assembly voted on Wednesday to reverse last-minute changes it had made to rules for next week's referendum on a new constitution following criticism by the United Nations and a boycott threat by the Sunni minority. After a brief debate and with only about half of its 275 members present, the assembly voted 119-28 to restore the original voting rules for the Oct. 15 referendum.