On January 30th, the people of Iraq will hold free elections. On that day, they will vote for two-hundred-seventy-five members of a national assembly whose task will be to draft a new national constitution. More than two-hundred political parties representing Iraq's vibrant and varied society are participating in the electoral process.
The Iraqi government is committed to proceeding with the election as planned. President George W. Bush says ongoing efforts by remnants of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship and foreign terrorists to keep Iraq's elections from going forward will not succeed: "You see, the terrorists understand what is at stake. They know they have no future in a free Iraq, because free people never choose their own enslavement. They know democracy will give Iraqis a stake in the future of their country. When Iraqis choose their leaders in free elections, it will destroy the myth that the terrorists are fighting a foreign occupation and make clear that what the terrorists are really fighting is the will of the Iraqi people."
"A free Iraq," said Mr. Bush, "will be a major victory in the war on terror":
"Free nations do not export terror. Free nations listen to the hopes and aspirations of their people. Free nations are peaceful nations. And a free Iraq will make America more secure, and the world a peaceful place. The success of democracy in Iraq will also inspire others across the Middle East to defend their own freedom and to expose the terrorists for what they are: violent extremists on the fringe of society with no agenda for the future except tyranny and death."
President Bush warned that violence is likely to escalate before the Iraqi elections. "The enemies of freedom in Iraq have been wounded, but they're not yet defeated," he said. "They'll keep on fighting. The terrorists will do all they can to delay and disrupt free elections in Iraq," said Mr. Bush, "and they will fail."