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Iraqis Seek More Responsibility for Governance

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2003 – The governing council wants to take on more responsibility for Iraq, and the Bush administration is more than willing to help them, said Condoleezza Rice, the president's adviser for national security.

Rice spoke during a White House press conference today.

She said the Iraqi Governing Council has demonstrated it is ready to take on more responsibility. She cited economic programs and currency reforms as two examples of these accomplishments. "Indeed, the ideas that (Coalition Administrator Paul) Bremer brought with him from Washington, many of them have been bubbling up from within the governing council," Rice said.

She said any change that will be made will be the work of that group. "The governing council is the one that will report to the United Nations on December 15th about its timeline, moving forward for the transfer of greater authority to the Iraqi people," she said.

She said the council has made tremendous strides in a short time. "It's not easy. But it has been successful," she said. "And I think when Jerry Bremer goes back and has these discussions, this will be something that the governing council will be putting forward as the way that we and they will transfer authority to the Iraqi people."

Rice said the coalition has always wanted to turn over authority to the Iraqi people as they built capability to take it on. The administration believes it is important that the people of Iraq have a permanent constitution and an elected government. She left the door open to an interim government along the lines of the one in Afghanistan. "It's still important that they have elections for a permanent government. Nothing has changed," she said.

"But what is also important is that we find ways to accelerate the transfer of authority to the Iraqi people," she continued. "They are clamoring for it. They are, we believe, ready for it and they have very strong ideas about how that might be done."

She said the coalition is responding to the fact that the governing council believes that the "timeline is probably longer for a permanent constitution" while it could take on new responsibilities sooner. "And so, it's the timeline on the permanent constitution that's really extended," she said.

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