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Plans for vote rigging in Iraq?

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Heavens no, say it ain't so.

The UN on Tuesday sharply criticized the changes — which make it nearly impossible for the Sunni minority to defeat the charter at the polls — and warned that they violate international standards.

Iraq's Shiite-dominated parliament passed the new rules on Sunday, effectively closing the loophole that would have given the minority a chance of vetoing the constitution by getting a two-thirds "no" vote in three provinces even if it wins majority approval nationwide. Sunni Arabs have a sufficient majority in four of Iraq's 18 provinces.

But to defeat it, two-thirds of registered voters must vote "no" in at least three provinces. The interpretation raises the bar to a level almost impossible to meet. In a province of 1 million registered voters, for example, 660,000 would have to vote "no" — even if that many didn't even come to the polls.

The dispute over the rule changes threatens to deepen disillusionment with the political process among Sunnis, who make up the backbone of the insurgency.

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