Bremer Says Iraq Moving on Path to Full Sovereignty
The administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer, says Iraq has taken three of the seven steps on the path to regaining full sovereignty.
In a speech broadcast to the Iraqi people September 5, Bremer named the first three steps as establishing a temporary Iraqi government, deciding how to write a constitution, and beginning to run the country.
Bremer said that after the completion of the next three steps -- writing the constitution, ratifying the constitution and electing a government -- the Coalition Authority will turn over the remainder of its authority to the Iraqi government as the seventh step.
Bremer said the process of regaining full sovereignty is in the hands of Iraq. He said he does not know how long the process will take, and has suggested that Iraq set a timetable for itself.
In the broadcast, Bremer said the Iraqi people could speed up the process by helping the Iraqi Governing Council, the Iraqi police and the Coalition forces identify and arrest saboteurs.
"Let us cooperate to bring about a freely elected, wholly sovereign Iraqi government at the earliest possible date," Bremer said.
Following is the text of Bremer's speech, as prepared for broadcast:
L. Paul Bremer
Administrator, Coalition Provisional Authority
Address to the Iraqi People
As prepared for Broadcast on 5 September 03
Masaa al Khair.
I am Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
The Coalition came to Iraq as liberators. We came to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein's cruel and evil regime and we have done that. We came to restore Iraq's government and resources to you, the Iraqi people. That restoration is in progress.
You have freedoms now that you have never had before -- the freedom to print and read what you like, the freedom to travel, the freedom to speak your mind. You have the freedom to criticize anyone you please, including me, the Coalition or the Governing Council.
I do not like, and the United States does not like, being an occupying power. Like you, we have wives and husbands and mothers and fathers and children with whom we would prefer to be. We want to go home as soon as possible.
I know you would rather not see foreign troops and tanks on your streets. Some say we should leave today, this moment. They say that you are capable of running your own government.
To those people I say, "Of course Iraqis can run their own government. Iraqis are intelligent, resourceful and adaptive." You can govern yourselves, but you need a framework for your government. The problem is that when Saddam and the Baathists had you by the throat, they destroyed the essential framework of government. All the laws, resources and powers of government belonged to one man. If Saddam desired one thing and the law required another, Saddam simply changed the law to suit his desires. Then, the Coalition approached Baghdad and Saddam filled two huge trucks with money and ran away.
Thus, when the Coalition arrived in Baghdad there was no government. There was only the vacuum Saddam left behind when he fled.
Now you must have a government. You must have a government which governs for your benefit and which derives from your will. That means you must have elections for your own government.
But to elect a government without a permanent constitution is to elect a Pharaoh, someone who, once elected, would have no limits on his power. And unlimited power, one-man absolutism placed tens of thousands of your fathers, mothers, brothers and daughters in the mass graves where Saddam dumped them, unidentified, unhonored and unsung.
You must have a new, permanent constitution. It would be irresponsible for us to topple Saddam, but then leave before you have a chance to establish a government to replace him. To do so would encourage terrorism and civil violence and invite the return of Saddam or some other tyrant.
The Coalition wants you to have:
A government whose acts are authorized, defined and limited by a permanent constitution, a government that represents your interests, a government that represents you, the free Iraqi people before all the nations of the world, a government that can protect you from criminals, saboteurs and terrorists. That is what the Coalition wants. That is what you want. That is what you are going to have.
The process to make that happen has already started. You are on the path to full sovereignty. There are seven steps on that path and three of them have already been taken.
Step One: Establishing a Temporary Iraqi Government
That step was taken two months ago when the Governing Council was created.
Step Two: Deciding How to Write a Constitution
That step was taken last month when the Governing Council named a Preparatory Committee to determine how you, the people of Iraq, should write your constitution.
Step Three: Iraqis Begin to Run the Country
This crucial step was taken on Tuesday (September 2) when 25 ministers appointed by the Governing Council took office. Now each ministry is run by an Iraqi appointed by Iraqis. These newly appointed ministers, who serve at the pleasure of Council, have important responsibilities:
-- They run the ministries, conducting the day-to-day business of your government.
-- They are preparing the 2004 budget. They must operate their ministries according to those budgets.
These are important responsibilities, but the Coalition believes ministers must have authorities equal their responsibilities. Therefore, as the ministers settle into their positions the Coalition will thrust authority at the ministers.
Step Four: Iraqis Write a New Constitution
On September 15 the Preparatory Committee appointed by the Governing Council will present the Council with recommendations on a process for writing the Constitution. Thereafter, presumably something like a constitutional convention will be convened and Iraqis will begin writing a new constitution.
I do not know how long this will take. No doubt the drafters will have to deal with complex and sensitive issues.
But I believe that the Iraqis drafting your constitution will recognize that they must act as Iraqis and not solely as advocates for their community. They will recognize that compromises must be made, that no individual can have everything he or she wants, that no group can have everything it wants. I am confident that these Iraqis will produce the permanent constitution for which all their countrymen are waiting.
Step Five: Ratifying the Constitution
Once written, the constitution will be widely circulated among the Iraqi people. Then all adult Iraqis will have the opportunity to vote for or against it. For the first time in your history, you will have a permanent constitution, which you have approved.
Step Six: Electing a Government
Shortly after the constitution is ratified by your vote there will be an election to fill the elective offices specified in the constitution. Officials in charge of that government will be chosen by you in an open and honest election.
When that government is elected, Iraq will have a government designed and approved by Iraqis.
Step Seven: The Coalition Authority Ends
Once Iraq has a freely elected government the Coalition will happily yield the remainder of its authority to that sovereign Iraqi government. The Coalition will then have fulfilled its obligations to the Iraqi people and to posterity.
How long will these seven steps take?
I cannot say, but the process I have described is in your hands. Iraqis run the Governing Council. Iraqis run all the ministries. Iraqis are deciding on the mechanism for writing a constitution. Iraqis will write the constitution. Iraqis will convoke and operate the elections to ratify the constitution and elect a government.
While I cannot say how long the process will take, I have suggested that the Governing Council establish and publish a timetable so that you can clearly see the steps on the path to full sovereignty.
There is something each of you can do to bring closer the day when you have your own sovereign government.
Help the Governing Council, the Iraqi police and the Coalition identify and arrest the saboteurs and terrorists who are trying to disrupt this process.
These criminals will not succeed, but their campaigns of murder, sabotage and destruction can slow this process.
Report them to the Iraqi police or to the Coalition forces. They will be arrested or, if they fight, killed.
Let us cooperate to bring about a freely elected, wholly sovereign Iraqi government at the earliest possible date.