Iraq Standing Up to Terrorist Attacks, President Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 6, 2004 The Iraqi people are making "excellent progress" toward democracy in spite of the terrorist attacks that attempt to derail the process, President Bush said in his weekly radio address today.
Bush said terrorists targeting Shiia pilgrims in Baghdad and Karbala during the region's holiest day Ashoura was tragic, but the Iraqi response was encouraging.
Terrorists killed more than 200 Iraqis and wounded 500 others in the bombings. "Some of these killers behind these attacks are supporters of Saddam's former regime," Bush said. "Others are foreign terrorists. All of them are determined to halt and reverse all progress toward freedom in Iraq."
Bush was encouraged by the way the Iraqi Governing Council and many other citizens of the country condemned the bombings, and voiced their determination that their country will be peaceful and free.
"The Iraqi people refuse to live in fear, and so do the members of our coalition," Bush said. "Fighting alongside the people of Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists who seek to plunge Iraq into chaos and violence, and we will stand with the people of Iraq for as long as necessary to build a stable, peaceful and successful democracy."
Bush said the governing council has embraced democracy. The council members are debating the Transitional Administrative Law that will govern the country once the coalition returns sovereignty June 30. "This transitional administrative law will result in protecting the rights of all Iraqis, and will move the country toward a democratic future," he noted.
The president said that last year Saddam Hussein's word was the law of the land in Iraq. The transitional law guarantees minority rights.
"The law will protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, the right to organize political parties, the right to vote in fair elections and the right to worship according to one's own conscience," Bush said. "The law also will guarantee the right to a speedy, fair and open trial. No Iraqi will ever again have to fear the midnight knock of the secret police."
The law calls for the election of a transitional national assembly by Jan. 31, 2005. That assembly will draft a new constitution that the Iraqi people will vote on. By the end of 2005, the Iraqi people will elect a parliament and establish a government that is fully representative and truly free, the president said.
"Difficult work in creating a new Iraqi government remains," Bush said. "Yet Iraqis are equal to the tasks before them. The Iraqi people have shown the world that they are fully capable of living in freedom."