President Bush Hails Adoption of Iraqi Transitional
Washington -- President Bush welcomed the signing of the Iraqi Transitional
Administrative Law March 8, noting that the document enshrines basic rights,
"including freedom of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, the right to a
fair trial, and the right to choose their own representatives."
"The adoption of this law marks a historic milestone in the Iraqi people's long
journey from tyranny and violence to liberty and peace. While difficult work
remains to establish democracy in Iraq, today's signing is a critical step in
that direction," Bush said.
A senior official in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) noted that the
Law has "a very substantial Bill of Rights written into the second chapter,
which I think the Iraqis can be very proud of as being in the forefront of such
a document anywhere in this part of the world."
"The document was not easy to achieve; they had to make lots of compromises. But
I think the Iraqis, you could tell at the ceremony today, were justifiably proud
of what they had done," the official said.
The Transitional Administrative Law establishes a legal framework for the
governance of Iraq during the interim period starting when the CPA restores
sovereignty June 30 until a permanent constitution is drafted and a
democratically-elected government is established.
The signing of the document had been delayed by a group of Shi'a officials on
the Iraqi Governing Council who requested additional time to consult with
political and religious leaders. The focus of their concern was a provision
within the text that could allow minorities to veto a proposed final
constitution when it eventually is brought to a nationwide referendum.
In the end, however, the 25 members of the council adopted the Law without any
changes, but agreed to continue discussions on the matter.
Iraqi Governing Council Spokesman Hamid Alkifaey remarked, "This was a difficult
point in that this group delayed the adoption of the constitution and was
concerned with the rule of the majority over the minority. But in the end, the
group decided, in Iraq's interest, to sign the Law despite their reservations on
He went on to say, "We can now look towards the future."
In reference to the concerns raised by the Shi'a members of the Governing
Council, a senior coalition official said, "These people have in the course of
about three months been able to put together a truly remarkable document. And
they were asked, all of them, to make compromises, and they made compromises.
And not all of them are happy."
He went on to say, "I'm sure every single one of the 25, if he'd wanted to,
could have found something to say about some article that they didn't actually
"When they went around the table this morning, before we came over to sign it,
every single one of them basically said, ‘We all didn't get everything we want,
but that's the nature of democracy,'" the coalition official said.
The Law defines a legal framework for the functioning of the government during
two distinct interim periods.
The first period begins with the handover of sovereignty by the Coalition
Provisional Authority June 30 and ends with the election of a National Assembly,
preferably by December 2004, but in any case no later than the end of January
The second period of the transition begins with the establishment of the
democratically elected National Assembly and ends with the establishment of an
Iraqi government on the basis of a permanent constitution approved by the Iraqi
people in a nationwide referendum.
The National Assembly is mandated to draft a proposed permanent constitution by
August 15, 2005, and the referendum is to be held no later than October 15,
2005. Assuming the constitution is adopted, elections for the government under
the guidelines of the permanent constitution would be held no later than
December 15, 2005.
The National Assembly will have 275 seats, and will appoint a president and two
deputy presidents. This presidency council will choose a prime minister by
unanimity and propose a council of ministers in consultation with the prime
minister. This council of ministers will be subject to a confidence vote by the
The Law also provides for an independent judiciary and civilian control over the
Iraqi and Coalition officials have welcomed the Law's assurances of rights for
all Iraqis, and particularly its attention to the rights of women.
According to the text of the Law, "The National Assembly shall be elected in
accordance with an electoral law and a political parties law. The electoral law
shall aim to achieve the goal of having women constitute no less than
one-quarter of the members of the National Assembly and of having fair
representation for all communities in Iraq, including the Turcomans,
ChaldoAssyrians, and others."
Alkifaey said, "This constitution is considered one of the most advanced Iraqi
documents ever written in its efforts to ensure women their full rights."
Transcript of the President's Remarks
By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information
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