The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
Iraq will hold national, provincial, and Kurdish regional government elections on January 30th. More than eighty parties and coalitions have been formed and more than seven-thousand candidates have registered. Iraq's Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says, "The Iraqi elections may not be perfect. They will undoubtedly be an excuse for violence from those who disparage and despise liberty. . . . But they will take place, and they will be fair."
President George W. Bush says the elections are just the beginning of the process:
"When Iraqis vote on January the 30th, they will elect two-hundred seventy-five members to a transitional national assembly, as well as local legislatures throughout the country. The new national assembly will be responsible for drafting a constitution for a free Iraq. By next October, the constitution will be submitted to the people for ratification. If it is approved, then, by December, the voters of Iraq will elect a fully democratic constitutional government."
Iraqi and foreign terrorists and remnants of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship are using brutal violence against innocent Iraqis to try to disrupt Iraq's political process. The terrorists, said Mr. Bush, know what is at stake:
"They know that a democratic Iraq will be a decisive blow to their ambitions, because free people will never choose to live in tyranny. And so the terrorists will attempt to delay the elections, to intimidate people in their country, to disrupt the democratic process in any way they can. No one can predict every turn in the months ahead, and I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free. Yet, I am confident of the result. I'm confident the terrorists will fail, the elections will go forward, and Iraq will be a democracy that reflects the values and traditions of its people."
The U.S. and many other countries have a vital interest in a free Iraq. Why? Because, says Mr. Bush, "free societies do not export terror. Free governments respect the aspirations of their citizens and serve their hopes for a better life. Free nations are peaceful nations. And free nations in the heart of the Middle East will show what is possible to others who want to live in a free society."