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4/15/04 - TIMETABLE TO IRAQ SOVEREIGNTY - 2004-04-15


There have been many successes in Iraq since it was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny one year ago. But the enemies of freedom are still trying to destabilize Iraq. “The violence we have seen,” says President George W. Bush, “is a power grab by extreme and ruthless elements. It's not a civil war. It's not a popular uprising.”

Remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Islamic militants, and foreign terrorists share a common goal: to run the coalition out of Iraq and deny the Iraqi people their freedom. But President Bush says the coalition will not be deterred from its goal: to hand over the reins of power to the Iraqi people on June 30th:

“On June 30th, when the flag of free Iraq is raised, Iraqi officials will assume full responsibility for the ministries of government. On that day, the transitional administrative law, including a bill of rights that is unprecedented in the Arab world, will take full effect.”

By January 2005, elections for a national assembly will be held. Those elected to the Iraqi national assembly will then draft a permanent constitution. By October 2005, there will be a nationwide referendum on Iraq’s new constitution.

This timetable is important, says Mr. Bush, because the Iraqi people want to govern themselves as soon as possible. “As a proud and independent people,” he says, “Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation, and neither does America”:

“We're not an imperial power, as nations such as Japan and Germany can attest. We are a liberating power, as nations in Europe and Asia can attest, as well. America's objective in Iraq is limited, and it is firm: We seek an independent, free, and secure Iraq.”

“The transition to sovereignty,” says Mr. Bush, “requires that we demonstrate confidence in Iraqis, and we have that confidence. Many Iraqi leaders are showing great personal courage, and their example will bring out the same quality in others.” The transition also requires an atmosphere of security. The coalition will continue taking the greatest care to prevent harm to innocent civilians, but it will not permit the spread of chaos and violence.

“We will not step back from our pledge,” says President Bush. “On June 30th, Iraqi sovereignty will be placed in Iraqi hands.”

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