Insurgents Won't Shoot Their Way to Power, Bremer Tells Iraqis
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 19, 2004 Iraq's Transitional Administrative Law offers hope for the country's future, and outlaws who oppose it will not be allowed to "shoot their way to power," the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator told the Iraqi people in an April 18 nationally broadcast address.
"The forces of darkness hope to obstruct the path to Iraqi sovereignty, elections and democracy," Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III said. "The vast majority of Iraqis want a peaceful, democratic Iraq. The path to that Iraq has been well defined."
He said the Transitional Administrative Law often referred to as Iraq's interim constitution -- is "proof that Iraqis not only want, but are prepared to construct a country based on the principles of individual liberty and democracy." The document, written by the Governing Council, provides for a seven-month interim government, four national elections, and an elected transitional government with plenary powers.
The law, he said, will guarantee a broad range of individual freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of the press. The law also provides for an independent Iraqi judiciary, he said. The law recognizes Islam as the official religion of Iraq, but still provides protection for all to practice their the religious beliefs, he added.
The law also provides for a permanent constitution to be written by elected representatives and presented to the Iraqi people for ratification.
"Some have challenged the Transitional Administrative Law," Bremer said. "They have raised objections based on imperfect understanding. This has created misconceptions about the Transitional Administrative Law."
Bremer clarified several misconceptions about the new law.
Many Iraqis, he said, believe the law gives too much power to an unelected government. But he said that belief is "false."
Bremer pointed out that the unelected interim government will be in power for just seven months, and is intended only to look after the "ordinary, day-to-day affairs of government." Furthermore, the interim government, he said, will not have the authority to negotiate treaties or to undertake long-term, binding commitments.
"The interim government will not have the power to do anything which cannot be undone by the elected government, which takes power early next year," he explained.
Another misconception, he said, is the belief that provisions in the interim constitution permitting two-thirds majorities of any three governates to reject the draft permanent constitution is a trick to keep Iraq from having a permanent constitution.
"This too is false," he said. "Iraqi unity requires a constitution that all of Iraq's communities can support. It is a fundamental principle of democracy that the constitution should provide for majority rule but also protect minority rights." He noted that a constitution objectionable to an overwhelming majority of the citizens of any three provinces would prevent a unified Iraq.
Bremer said the coalition, the Iraqi Governing Council and the Iraqi people working over the coming weeks with United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi -- will establish an Iraqi "caretaker government" capable of administering the ordinary affairs of the country before elections take place in January.
He said the Iraqi interim government will consist of a president, two deputy presidents and a cabinet of "honest, distinguished, and capable Iraqis."
Bremer said Brahimi is considering convening a national conference of prominent Iraqi citizens to be held in July. That conference, he pointed out, would elect an advisory council to provide "guidance and wisdom to the new government." He said U.N. experts would work with Iraqis to ensure full, fair, and free national elections.
"This, now, is the way forward," he said. "First, we must all work together to restore security to Iraq. Then, working under the framework set out in the Transitional Administrative Law, Iraqis, the United Nations, and their coalition allies will together build a sovereign Iraqi that is secure, democratic, and free."
However, Bremer said sovereignty in Iraq is being challenged by "violent minorities" who are trying to stop the election process and shoot their way to power."
Events of the past two weeks, in which insurgents overran Iraqi police stations and seized public buildings as Iraqi forces were unable to stop them, prove the country still faces security threats and needs "outside help," Bremer said. He said that Iraq's security forces must have help until they are fully equipped and trained, and that the coalition intends to provide that help, Bremer said.
Because Iraqi forces will not be able to deal with the threats to Iraqi security on their own by June 30, when an Iraqi government assumes sovereignty, he said, Iraqi and coalition troops be partners in providing the security the country needs.
Bremer said that while the security situation will be the primary responsibility of the coalition, it also is the responsibility of the Iraqi people.
"Whether by direct enlistment in the security forces or through the sharing of information with security forces, almost all Iraqi families can add to the security and progress of their country," he said.