L. Paul Bremer
Coalition Provisional Authority
Remarks to Governing Council
Baghdad City Council
March 24, 2004
Salaam Aleikum, members of the Governing Council and Ministers.
Thank you for joining us today.
In just one hundred days a sovereign Iraqi government will come into being. It
will be a happy event for all Iraq and a happy day for my family.
The Coalition Provision Authority will dissolve and the sovereignty that the
Coalition once held in trust for the Iraqi people will rest solely in Iraqi
Much remains to be done in the next hundred days, but today, almost a year after
liberation, we should take heart from what has already been accomplished.
At liberation, this great country had been reduced to a shell, not by war, not
by invasion, but by almost four decades of relentless greed and cruelty by its
leaders. Instead of investing in Iraq’s infrastructure, Saddam’s regime
squandered and stole the nation’s wealth. Instead of serving his citizens Saddam
deprived them of access to essential services. When liberation came, water,
electricity, sewage, schools and much more were a shambles. When liberation
came, not a single policeman was on duty in Iraq and the Army had disappeared.
What a difference a year can make in the life of the Iraqi people.
• Today over 200,000 Iraqis are serving in Iraq’s security forces protecting
Iraq, its people and infrastructure.
• Today Iraq has more electrical power than before liberation. And more is
• Already more than 2500 schools have been rehabilitated by the Coaltion.
• Over 3 million Iraqi children under five have been vaccinated against polio
and other diseases.
• The Coalition has increased health care spending by more than 30 times and it
is still growing.
• Since May, the Coalition has completed almost 18,000 individual reconstruction
projects across the length and breadth of the country.
• The economy is picking up steam. And indicators are that unemployment is half
what is was at liberation—and possibly below what is was before the war.
• Iraq’s new currency has gained 29 percent since it was introduced just a few
• Today over one million Iraqis enjoy telephone service—more than before the
war. And that number grows by 15,000 per week.
• Iraq is once again a member of the international community, routinely joining
sister states in the Arab League, the United Nations, the World Bank and IMF.
• And, in an area where I am particularly happy to report, after over 500
elections at sports clubs all over the country, Iraq is again a member of the
International Olympic Committee. And this summer in Athens Iraqi athletes will
compete under the Iraqi flag at the Olympics.
* * *
But the great achievement of Iraq is in the political area. Iraq
is now on a path to full democracy in a united state at peace with its
The Transitional Administrative Law, written and approved by the Iraqi Governing
Council, many of whom are with us today, lays out the path Iraqis will follow to
sovereignty, elections and democracy. All Iraqis owe the members of the
Governing Council thanks for this great contribution to Iraq’s future.
The Transitional Administrative Law is the product of the highest levels of
statesmanship. The members of the Governing Council come from many different
traditions and communities. And these distinct communities have distinct desires
But of course all those expectations did not match up perfectly. The great work
of the Governing Council was to recognize that the different expectations were
not completely opposed to one another, that they could be made to fit together
in a harmonious whole if they were adjusted.
Nobody was completely satisfied with every article of the law. But by working
hard to find common ground, the members of the Governing Council members taught
all Iraqis that democracy works through peaceful compromise. Moments before
signing the law, Governing Council President Sayyid Bahr al-Uloum congratulated
the members of the Governing Council for putting Iraq’s interests ahead of their
own personal interests. This is the true essence of democracy.
The Transitional Administrative Law is the product of democracy at work. For
democracy entails not just majority rule, but protection of minority rights.
For Iraq to regain its prosperity and strength it must remain united. And that
unity requires that the interests of all Iraqis be accommodated. In a country as
broad and diverse as Iraq it is not possible for every interest to have all it
The Transitional Administrative Law recognizes this and protects the vital
interests of all Iraqis:
• The Law recognizes that Islam enjoys a special place as the religion of most
Iraqis—but the law guarantees the religious beliefs and practices of all
• The law protects the rights of every Iraqi—man, woman and child. They have the
right to speak their mind on any subject, to assemble peacefully, to travel
freely and the right to privacy—the right to be let alone. What a contrast to
the experience Iraqis had under Saddam’s tyranny.
• The Transitional Administrative Law creates a nation of laws. Every citizen,
no matter how humble, is entitled to the protection of the law. No citizen, not
even the president, is above the law. Again, what a contrast to Saddam’s rule.
The Transitional Administrative Law also protects local rights and interests by
providing for federalism. The idea of federalism is that local leaders elected
locally handle some issues best while national leaders, elected from all around
the country handle other issues. A federal system allows power to be distributed
to all governates while retaining a unified central authority. Federalism works
well in countries as different as the United Arab Emirates, Canada and India.
And the Transitional Administrative Law lights the path to free, national
elections. Under this Law there will be four national elections before the end
• The first election, to elect a 275-member National Assembly, must take place
no later than January 31, 2005—and earlier if possible.
• At the same time, all Iraqi voters will elect governate councils—again not
later than January 31, 2005.
• Thirdly, a constitution written by the National Assembly must be presented to
the people in a general referendum no later than October 15, 2005.
• The fourth election, for a government elected under the terms of the new
constitution, must be held no later than December 15, 2005. This fourth election
will bring a directly elected government to power in Iraq.
None of this could happen without a Transitional Administrative Law. Without
this framework, without a legal structure to define the rules, elections could
not be held.
Without this framework, individual rights could not be guaranteed.
Without this framework, the rule of law could not be guaranteed.
All Iraqis owe the Governing Council thanks for its courageous statesmanship in
writing the Transitional Administrative Law and setting Iraq on the path to
sovereignty, elections and democracy.
* * *
Much remains to be accomplished in the next 100 days, ladies and
New institutions will be created.
One of the primary duties of any state is to protect its individual citizens
from foreign aggression. Iraq’s security is the first concern of Iraqi
citizens—we hear it every day-- and the top priority of the Coalition. To assure
that Iraq has the structures necessary to do so I will formally create the new
Iraqi Ministry of Defense and a cabinet-level National Security Committee later
this week. These institutions will start working right away with the Coalition
Provisional Authority on security matters.
Secondly, many Iraqis are concerned about corruption. So am I. While the vast
majority of Iraq’s citizens are honest, we cannot forget the past. During Saddam
Hussein’s regime school yards filled with sewage while Saddam built palaces and
Uday bought Ferraris. To protect the Iraqi people from this kind of corruption
in the years ahead I am creating three independent, but cooperating agencies to
protect the public interest.
The Commission on Public Integrity is the chief enforcement element of Iraq’s
anti-corruption laws. It will work alongside a revitalized Board of Supreme
Audit and the newly established Inspectors General, who will be assigned to
The three entities, the Auditors, the Inspectors General and the Commission,
form an integrated approach intended to combat corruption at every level of
government across the country. I have already appointed inspectors general in 19
ministries. The rest will follow shortly.
Thirdly, under Saddam the government owned and ran all media outlets. The
so-called Ministry of Information should properly have been called the “Ministry
of Propaganda.” But a free and democratic country, such as Iraq now is, has no
place for government-sponsored propaganda. Rather, in a country such as Iraq is
today, government-owned media exist to inform the public, not to promote the
political interests of the president or prime minister of the moment. For that
reason, I intend to establish a new Iraq Public Service Broadcaster, which will
regulate these publicly owned media. This Commission will be completely
independent of the government will soon be established.
Finally, like the oil beneath the ground, Iraq’s airwaves belong to all Iraq’s
people. To ensure that those airwaves are administered in the public interest,
the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission will administer their use
independently of the government.
* * *
Ladies and gentlemen, one hundred days from now Iraqis will be
sovereign in their own land and responsible for their own future.
The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist on June 30. But after
June 30 the countries of the Coalition will continue their commitment to the
Iraqi people’s security and success. Our programs to assist Iraqi construction
for their future of hope will continue. The American taxpayers have committed
almost $19 billion to Iraq’s reconstruction. And that commitment will continue
well after June 30. To maintain security, our military forces will become full
partners with Iraq’s sovereign government in providing security to the Iraqi
The Coalition and its member states will stand with the Iraq people as they
build a future of hope for their children and for their children’s children.
And they shall have that future of hope.
Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed.