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Official: Many Sunnis favor constitution

Terrorists want Taliban-like state, national security adviser says



• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The terrorists fighting against Iraq's fledgling government would consider a "no" vote in next week's planned constitutional referendum to be a victory, the country's national security adviser said Sunday.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie told CNN's "Late Edition" the insurgents fear democracy.

"I believe these people are the dark forces, the anti-Iraq forces, who would not like democracy in Iraq," al-Rubaie said.

"They want to bring to Iraq a Taliban-style regime like in Afghanistan," he said, referring to the ultraconservative Islamic religious and political faction that ruled much of Afghanistan from the mid-1990s until November 2001.

Al-Rubaie said he hoped voters will approve the constitution at Saturday's vote.

"I hope and I think and I pray that the Iraqi people will say 'yes, yes' -- loud and clear -- for this constitution, because it's a huge step toward building a new Iraq," he said.

Al-Rubaie predicted that, despite vocal opposition to the document from some Sunni representatives on the constitutional committee, the "overwhelming majority of the ... ordinary [Sunni] people" favor the draft constitution.

Iraqis cannot be bullied, he said.

Threats from Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who leads al Qaeda in Iraq, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, will not have "any influence on our Iraqi citizens, which are really determined to go to the ballot boxes," al-Rubaie said.

"We are so determined to proceed with our political process and to move on to the next step, which is the general election in December," he said.

If the measure is rejected by two-thirds of voters in three of Iraq's 18 provinces, a new government must be formed and the constitution process would begin again.

The national security adviser's comments on the referendum came one day after the government announced stiff security measures ahead of the historic vote.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr said more that 70,000 Iraqi police and soldiers will be responsible for security during the referendum.

Iraqi authorities say they hope the constitutional referendum will help lead to the establishment of law and order and social stability in the country, where a largely Sunni insurgency has been targeting the Kurdish and Shiite-dominated government, the U.S.-led coalition forces and civilians regarded as their supporters and abettors.

Government authorities say they hope Iraqis will feel safe enough to go to the polls as they did in January, when more than 8 million people -- more than half the Iraqis eligible -- voted in the election for a 275-member transitional national assembly.

The announced security measures include border closures and curfews in the period surrounding the referendum.

Polling centers will have three rings of security. Local police will be closest to the polls; Iraqi soldiers will form the second ring; and coalition forces will serve on the perimeter.

Saddam court date nears

Saddam Hussein is expected to appear in court when his trial begins October 19, a source close to the tribunal told CNN on Sunday.

The former Iraqi leader will be accompanied by his attorney, Khalil Duleimi, the source said.

Defense attorneys likely will tell the judges running the trial they need greater access to court materials or more lawyers, and they might make motions regarding legal aspects of the case, the source predicted.

Even if the trial begins as scheduled, the source said, it may soon take a break. "I would call this the beginning of an ongoing process," the source said. "How much time between that first day, whether or not they have business for one or two days and adjourn for some time, how long the adjournment would be would be up to the trial bench."

Though the government has promised the proceedings would be transparent and public, the source said the judges have not decided whether the proceedings can be televised.

Saddam and seven others are charged in connection with a series of 1982 detentions and executions in Dujayl, a Shiite town north of Baghdad after assassination attempt against him.

Other developments

  • A U.S. Marine was killed Saturday when the vehicle he was in was hit by a roadside bomb in the Anbar province capital of Ramadi, the U.S. military said Sunday. Since March 2003, 1,962 U.S. service members have died in the war, including 28 this month.
  • A car bomb in the second-most populous city in Iraq wounded four Iraqis on Sunday, an Iraqi army official said. The bomb exploded outside a building used by the Badr Brigade -- a military wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq party, an Iraqi police official said. Basra is about 280 miles (450 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Ingrid Formanek and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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