REMARKS BY MEMBERS OF THE IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL
AT SIGNING CEREMONY FOR THE INTERIM CONSTITUTION
MOHAMMAD BAHR AL-ULOUM, PRESIDENT, INTERIM GOVERNING COUNCIL;
ADNAN PACHACHI, FORMER PRESIDENT, INTERIM GOVERNING COUNCIL;
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2004
MR. BAHR AL-ULOUM: (Through interpreter.) In the name of God, most merciful,
most compassionate, thanks to the Lord and prayer to the master of all created
people. Mohammed, the prophet of God, peace be upon you from God. Brothers and
sisters, may God's blessing and mercy be on you.
We stand this day at a historical moment, decisive in the history of our
glorious Iraqi people. During this month, holy month of Muharram, and the memory
of the painful attacks, renewed in the lands of Karbala and Kadhimiyah, painful events for our people, who are longing for freedom and liberty.
Many murders fell at the hands of those forces that are trying to stop the
political process which began with the fall of the regime of Saddam, the Ancien regime.
On the road to rebuilding Iraq that will be culminated by the sovereignty and
authority, these evil forces that planned the crimes of Karbala and Kadhimiyah and, before them, the evil crimes of theirs in Najaf and Erbil and Mosul
and Ar Ramadi and Iskandariyah and Kirkuk and Baqubah, Nasiriyah and Fallujah
and in Tikrit and in all places of this, our dear country, Iraq, the great Iraq,
they forgot that the will of our people is more powerful than their plans and
their determination is more powerful than all of these crimes.
Here we are today, standing in a historical moment, to lay the foundation, the
strong foundation for rebuilding a new Iraq -- Iraq, new, free, democratic, that
protects the dignity of the human being and protects his rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, the law for the administration of the Iraqi state during
the transitional period, which we are celebrating today signing it, represents
the first constitutional experience in which all the components of the Iraqi
people participated in; and it represents the principle of consensus between all
these components in a way that protects the unity of Iraq land and people, and
protects the rights of all of its components -- political, social. And this law
prepares the way for a wide participation in public direct elections which will
be conducted at the end of this year, till we reach a permanent constitution and
an elected government by the Iraqi people.
So from here or based on this, the law for the administration of Iraq during the
transitional period is the first experience for formulating a legal document for
the management of the country. It was prepared in exceptional circumstances Iraq
is going through. The occupation is one of its major characteristics, in
addition to these attacks that the Iraqi people is -- the great Iraqi people is
subjected to from these enemies of the people and that is trying to take its
liberty and freedom and sovereignty. It's natural that the document is not
comprehensive that achieves all of the legal and legitimate aspirations, but it
establishes characteristics of a new period in which the people will participate
in formulating the political future of the country.
The law has confirmed -- the transitional law during the transition period --
confirmed many of the vital and essential issues, most notable among which:
First, the end of occupation and regaining of sovereignty on the 30th of June.
Secondly, confirming the unity of Iraq land and people.
Thirdly, guaranteeing the rights of citizens regardless of their national or
ethnic affiliation or religious affiliation, and considering nationality as a
criterion that governs all.
Fourthly, protection of the Islamic identity of the Iraqi people and considering
Islam the official religion of the state, and not legislating any law that
contradicts the principles of Islam.
Fifthly, confirming the federal and decentralized system in managing the country
through the development of the provinces and the governates.
Sixthly, confirming that the natural resources and the revenues from it will be
distributed justly and fairly on all the various areas of Iraq, taking -- giving
priority to the areas that were deprived during the (unsealed ?) regime.
Seventhly, guaranteeing the return of those who immigrated and those who were
forced to immigrate and returning nationality to those who were deprived of it
and eliminating all the attempts to change the composition of the country;
confirming the role of Iraqi women in building new Iraq and guaranteeing her
participation effectively in the political process and removing all of the
obstacles in her way and giving her equality with a man in carrying the
Ladies and gentlemen, if the 9th of March -- of April represents the fall of the
dictatorial regime, and the 13th of July the birth of the Iraqi GC, Governing
Council, then this day, the 8th of March, which coincides with -- (audio break)
-- of the coming year.
Today the feelings are mixed, so with all the pains that we are living, grief of
our brothers who fell in Karbala and al-Kadhimiya, our people have more
determination to continue their march towards a free life, honorable life in
which justice and equality prevail. And based -- (audio break) -- of the Iraqi
people for the -- (audio break) -- Iraqis. And we cannot fail to represent our
deep appreciation -- (audio break) -- to help the Iraq people to get rid of the
regime of the dictator Saddam, and who are participating in rebuilding our
country, constructing it so that Iraq will -- (audio break). (Applause.)
(Audio break) -- and the leader of the Kurdish people, one of the prominent
leaders of the Kurdish as well as Iraq, Mr. Massaoud Barzani, the chairman of
the Governing Council next -- (off mike) -- of God most passionate, the --
(audio break) -- fast recovery and -- (audio break) -- of the injured. And we
condemn strongly this criminal act, which did not target a particular group but
targeted Iraq as a whole, and targeted a delay of the political process that has
been created by the establishment of the transitional law. No doubt the
declaration of this law is the best response to those terrorists and their
supporters, and we must continue with our determination and march forward to
achieve our goals every time these terrorists increase their activities.
Brothers and sisters, through the efforts of good people we were able to reach a
balanced law for managing of the state. It is considered a great achievement and
a victory for all Iraqis, and a new beginning for a new Iraq. And those who
suffered from the dictatorship realize the importance of this law, which will
help to fix and achieve security and stability in the area and open the
opportunity for cooperation on a large scale with countries of the world,
especially the neighboring countries.
What gives me pleasure is to see that we have practiced during our discussions
the highest type of democracy, which led us to this acceptable result that is
truly a fruit of the wounds that were left by '75 agreement in Algeria, the
Anfal operation, the chemical bombing, and the collective graves and
discrimination in all its forms. This is a logical response to it. True, not
every party achieved everything it wanted, but as Iraq is together, we obtained
what we struggled for for many years and best of our children sacrifice our life
for; that is an Iraq that is federal, democratic, pluralistic, parliamentarian.
And this law, which assures every party that it will not subject it to
discrimination and oppression after today and will open the opportunity for
resolving any problems that have not been resolved in a permanent constitution
-- no doubt this law will solidify the unity of Iraq and improve it in a way
that is not precedented before, and will give confidence to the Arabs and the
Kurds and the Turkmen and the Assyrians to coexist as brothers and to cooperate
with each other willingly. And I, as a Kurdish Iraqi citizen, I will say clearly
this is the first time that we feel -- we, the Kurds -- that we are citizens
equal to everybody, and in light of this law we know our rights and our
responsibilities. I will confirm also that we are on the same determination,
that we fought dictatorship then and will use the same determination to protect
democracy, and will sacrifice every valuable for new Iraq, democratic and
federal, and we will combat terrorism without rest.
We, as we celebrate the birth of a new Iraq, remember the martyrs of our people
who sacrificed their lives to guarantee freedom and bright future for us, and
dignified living. No doubt their souls are flying over Iraq today as it is
celebrating. I would like to mention particularly the brave people who presented
sacrifices, and what they achieved was a miracle defense of democracy for all of
Iraq, and all of the legitimate rights for the Kurdistan people. And they have
the right today to stand tall between their people.
I find it necessary to present thanks to all of our brothers and colleagues from
the -- members of the GC and the parties and the political forces, and the
representatives outside of the council, which contributed in one way or the
other in achieving this great achievement.
We present our thanks to the two ambassadors, Mr. Paul Bremer and Sir Jeremy
Greenstock, and their assistance for their positive contribution in bringing our
points of view closer whenever that was necessary.
And I would like also to present our thanks to President George Bush and to the
Prime Minister Tony Blair for their support of the Iraqi people and saving it
from the dictatorship.
And we would like to express our sympathy with the soldiers of the coalition who
sacrificed their lives for protecting the freedom of the Iraqi people.
And on this occasion, I would like to give our congratulation to the children of
Kurdistan for this great historical achievement, which coincides with the memory
of the intifada of 1991 which was crowned by a democratic experience that became
a basis for all Iraqis to fight dictatorship. And with reaching an agreement on
the administrative law, our happiness is complete and Iraq becomes, in its
entirety, free; walking with steady steps for establishing an Iraq -- a
prosperous, democratic Iraq. So let us go toward more solidarity and cooperation
for the whole of Iraq and for national reconciliation, comprehensive national
And on the occasion of the Women's Day, I'd like to give my congratulations to
the Iraqi women.
And in conclusion, please allow me to give a short word in Kurdish language to
the people of Kurdistan. (Segment not translated.) (Applause.)
Now, I call on our honorable teacher, Dr. Adnan Pachachi, the former chairman of
the Council and the head of the drafting committee for the law, to give his
Please come forward.
MR. PACHACHI: (Through interpreter.) In the name of God, most merciful, most
compassionate; it is a great honor to speak before you at this historical moment
in the life of our dear nation. After several months of continuous work and
responsible discussions -- the Governing Council approved unanimously through
consensus and understanding this law. This is an Iraqi law that was established
by Iraqis. Yes, we consulted with the Coalition Provisional Authority in
accordance to our obligation, in accordance with the agreement of 15th of
November, and our consultations were useful and constructive. It's helped us in
achieving this great historical achievement.
And I would like to take this opportunity and this occasion to express my
sincere thanks to Ambassador Bremer and Ambassador Greenstock and their
colleagues for the efforts, the great efforts they exerted to make this unique
experience succeed, this historic and unique experience succeed.
This law is for a transitional period that is divided into two stages. The first
stage should not exceed seven months, starting the 30th of June, when a
provisional government receives full authority and sovereignty from the
administration of the Coalition Provisional Authority. And this government shall
be established, this provisional government, in accordance to a consultation on
a wide scale with all the sectors of Iraqi society. That will be conducted by
the Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority. And it is
possible also to get the advice of the United Nations in this respect.
This provisional government will exercise its authorities in accordance with an
appendix that we agreed upon before the beginning of the transitional period and
is considered part and parcel of the law.
This provisional government shall manage the affairs of the state for a period
-- does not exceed seven months, and its work will end when a government's
elected by -- an elected national assembly directly by the Iraqi people.
Then the second stage of the provisional period begins, and the elected national
assembly shall write the permanent constitution, which will be presented to the
people to approve it in a national referendum. And after that a public election
shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this constitution. And
in this way, the provisional period shall come to an end, and it should not
exceed the 31st of January, 2005.
In my opinion, that -- the most important thing in this law, which we will sign
today: the rights and the freedoms and the guarantees, that the Iraqi people and
the Iraqi citizen will enjoy rights that cannot be (touched ?) or abridged. Most
important among these rights -- and I will mention it as an example and not
exclusively -- equality before the law; nondiscrimination between citizens
because of sex or opinion or belief or nationality or religion or sect or
origin; freedom of expression and the freedom of association; the freedom of
organizing parties and societies and trade unions, and belonging to them;
freedom of thought and (consciousness ?) and religious beliefs, and practicing
its rituals; the right to education and medical care and social security.,
The law confirms the independence of the judiciary and provides legal guarantees
for the protection of citizen from excesses of the officials or the government
officials, including not establishing special tribunals or court or trying
civilians in front of military courts; and also impermissibility of violating
the sanctity of private homes; and prevention of haphazard arrests and
prevention of torture, physical as well as psychological; and nonacceptance of
any confession under threat or duress. This law also protects the right of
ownership in all of Iraq.
These rights and freedoms is guaranteed by the popular participation in regular
elections to guarantee the transfer of authority peacefully and solidifying the
principle of the armed forces' subjugation to civilian leadership.
Some may say that these are rights and freedoms that are borrowed from the
Western world and does not have any deep roots in Iraq. My answer to this is
that these rights are not owned by the West; it is universal values that was
stipulated in the international conventions that should be respected and should
be followed in every time and in every place.
We did not work for the present only, but for the future, as well. We have ahead
of us noble goals that might be difficult to achieve now, but it will remain as
a candle for the people for the future.
And my call to my citizens: Please protect these rights and do not give them up,
because it is the most valuable of what you own.
I pray to the God, to the Lord, to protect Iraq from every bad and evil act and
keep it united -- (inaudible). Thank you very much.
MR. : (Through interpreter.) I was asked to give some words in English to our
guests who do not speak Arabic.
(In English.) After many months -- (short audio break) -- we have produced a
document that we can be justly proud of. We had useful and constructive
consultations with the CPA, in accordance with our obligations under the
agreement of November 15th. And I take this opportunity to pay tribute to
Ambassadors Bremer and Greenstock and their colleagues for their tireless
efforts, which helped to make this such a historic and memorable day.
I would like to emphasize what, in my opinion, is the greatest achievement of
this law: the bill of rights. These rights cannot be amended or reduced. And
they cannot be touched. They include many rights, such as equality before the
law; the right of expression -- of free expression and assembly; freedom of
movement. And two important principles have been consecrated and upheld: the
independence of the judiciary and the subordination of the military to elected
civilian control. All these rights are secured by periodic free elections to
ensure the peaceful transfer of power and authority.
Some may say that the Bill of Rights is copied from the West; my answer: these
rights and values are not exclusively the property of the West; they are
universal and should be respected and implemented everywhere. This law is
aspirational in character. We have not legislated for the present, but we have
put up a high standard so that the people in the future will always try to
reach. It is thus a beacon of light and hope for future generations. And I thank
you very much.
MR. : (Through interpreter.) We now begin the historical process with the
signing of the members of the Governing Council on the law for the
administration of Iraq during the transitional period, starting with his
eminence Dr. Muhammed Bahr Uloum, the president of the transitional Governing
(Remaining members of the Governing Council are called upon and sign the