SEOUL, South Korea — A constitution mandating sweeping democratic reforms was overwhelmingly approved by voters today, clearing the way for the first direct presidential elections in 16 years.
Election officials said that with 54% of the total ballots counted, 94% of the voters approved the constitution.
Korean newspapers in their first editions for Wednesday reported with banner headlines that the constitution had passed.
Hundreds of radicals demanding a boycott of today's referendum and the overthrow of the government had battled riot police in front of Myungdong Roman Catholic Cathedral in the heart of Seoul. Protesters hurled scores of firebombs and rocks as police held them back with volleys of tear gas.
The government agreed to the new constitution and other reforms after nationwide protests for full democracy during the summer.