The two-hundred-seventy-five men and women of Iraq's first democratically elected transitional assembly met in Baghdad. They were chosen by over eight million Iraqis who went to the polls on January 30th.
Ghazi al-Yawer, Iraq's interim president, said, "These elections have proven that the Iraqi people truly deserve to be described as courageous and highly responsible. These elections made others respect us."
Iraq's new transitional assembly met on the anniversary of the attack on Halabja. In 1988, the Saddam Hussein regime attacked the Iraqi Kurdish city with chemical weapons, murdering more than five-thousand people. Fuad Masoum, a Kurdish delegate, said, "It is a great day in Iraqi history that its elected representatives meet. This day coincides with a painful memory that has many meanings," said Mr. Masoum. But, on this occasion, he said, Iraqis "celebrate the inauguration of parliament after the fall of this [Saddam Hussein] regime."
The first session of the transitional assembly opened with a reading from the Koran, followed by an oath of office administered to the new legislators by Medhat al-Mahmoud, Iraq's chief justice.
President George W. Bush welcomed the opening of the transitional assembly in Iraq:
"I want to congratulate the Iraqis for their assembly. We've always said this is a process... And it's a hopeful moment I thought."
The Iraqi transitional assembly has until August 15th to draft a new constitution. Iraqis will return to the polls by October 15th to vote for or against the document. Iraqis will vote for a permanent government in December. "It is interesting...to watch the process of people negotiating...and people seeking out positions as to their stands on the issues that will be relevant to the future of Iraq," says President Bush. "It's a wholesome process, and it's being done in a transparent way."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.