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6/1/04 - TIMETABLE TO FREEDOM - 2004-06-01

President George W. Bush says the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq has a “clear goal, understood by all: to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations.”

That goal is being met. Already, fourteen government ministries are under the direct control of Iraqis. And on June 30th, the coalition transfers full sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says, that transfer of power will prepare the way for national elections:

“With an interim government in place and reconstruction proceeding, Iraqis can then look forward to electing a national assembly at the end of the year or no later than the end of January of next year, the formation of a transitional government, the drafting and ratification of a new constitution, and then to a fully democratic national election at the end of 2005. That is the way ahead. It is a clear path.”

Mr. Powell says while the transition proceeds, the coalition will help establish the security and stability that democracy requires:

“To make sure that Iraq quickly has the ability to take care of its own security, we will be accelerating the process of getting Iraqis ready to defend and police their own country. We are also doing everything we can to accelerate the rebuilding of Iraq’s industrial and human infrastructure, from its electrical power and oil production systems on one side to its schools, universities, and health care facilities on the other.”

Decades of oppression by Saddam Hussein destroyed hope in Iraq. But the Iraqi people want their independence. And they will get it.

The transition will not be easy. As the transfer of sovereignty approaches, Iraqis are likely to see more violence from groups opposed to democracy. As President Bush says, “The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom. But terrorists,” says Mr. Bush, “will not determine the future of Iraq.”