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Choosing Iraqi Leaders

The two-hundred seventy-five men and women who were elected to serve in Iraq's transitional national assembly are meeting to select the country's new leaders. Those who hold a majority in the assembly have repeatedly voiced their commitment to including smaller parties and minority groups in the political process.

The assembly members are consulting a broad spectrum of Iraqis to choose a president, prime minister, and other government officials. The new leaders must be approved by two-thirds of the national assembly.

President George W. Bush says that the U.S. looks forward "to working with the government that emerges from this process":

"The new transitional national assembly includes people and parties with differing visions for the future of their country. In a democratic Iraq, these differences will be resolved through debate and persuasion instead of force and intimidation."

"In forming their new government," says Mr. Bush, "the Iraqis have shown that the spirit of compromise has survived more than three decades of dictatorship":

"They [the Iraqis] will need that spirit in the weeks and months ahead, as they continue the hard work of building their democracy.... And Iraq's new leaders are determined that the government of a free Iraq will be representative of their country's diverse population."

The next step for the members of Iraq's national assembly will be to draft a constitution. That document is scheduled to be put before the Iraqi people in a national referendum no later than October.

Iraqis are undertaking a new political experiment, their first real experiment with self-government. But "a free society requires more than free elections," says President Bush. "It also requires free institutions, a vibrant civil society, rule of law, anti-corruption, and the habits of liberty built over generations."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.