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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

29 August 2005

U.S. Ambassador Congratulates Iraqi Leaders on Draft Constitution

Khalilzad says submission sets stage for "historic debate" among Iraqis

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad welcomes the completion of Iraq’s draft constitution and urges all Iraqis to read it and debate its merits before heading to the polls October 15 to approve or reject it in a referendum.

“The completed draft of the constitution provides a vision for the future, one based on democratic values and Iraqi traditions.  It is a good document,” Khalilzad said in an August 28 press release.

“The submission of this complete draft sets the stage for a historic debate among Iraqis about how to institutionalize their new democracy,” he said.

The ambassador praised the document for protecting human rights, religious freedom, women’s equality and Iraqi unity.

Khalilzad said that Iraqis should read the actual text of the proposed constitution because there has been much misinformation and disinformation about its contents over the past few weeks.

Iraq’s Transitional National Assembly accepted the proposed charter August 28.  It will be put before the Iraqi voters in a national referendum October 15.  If the voters approve the document, it will serve as the basis for a new round of elections December 15.

Both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued August 28 statements of congratulations to the Iraqi people for successfully completing their new draft constitution. (See related article.)

For additional information, see Iraq’s Political Process.

Following is the text of Khalilzad’s statement:

(begin text)

[U.S. Embassy Baghdad]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2005
Contact: Peter Mitchell
Embassy Spokesman
Phone: (914) 360-6452
Email: MitchellPJ@state.gov

STATEMENT

U.S. AMBASSADOR ZALMAY KHALILZAD

The completed draft of the constitution provides a vision for the future, one based on democratic values and Iraqi traditions.  It is a good document.  I congratulate the Iraqi leaders who worked so hard and so long to arrive at this moment. 

The submission of this complete draft sets the stage for a historic debate among Iraqis about how to institutionalize their new democracy. 

-- The draft constitution protects human equality and human rights.

-- It establishes checks, balances, and the separation of powers.

-- The draft constitution protects the unity of Iraq through federalism.  The Kurdish region has not been part of Iraq for many years.  Kurdish leaders are bringing their region back into Iraq of their own free will.  It is through the principle of federalism that this reintegration of Iraq is possible.

-- The draft constitution establishes the full equality of men and women before the law and equality of opportunity for all Iraqis.

-- Women have the right to participate fully in public affairs, and electoral laws will be designed to ensure that 25 percent of members of parliament are women.

-- The draft constitution is one of the most progressive governing documents in the Muslim world in terms of its protections of the right of religious freedom and conscience.

-- It is based on an enlightened synthesis of universal human rights and democratic values and Iraqi traditions, including Islam.

Iraqis from all communities should review the draft.  As the draft has evolved through negotiations, there has been much misinformation and disinformation about its content.  Iraqis should read it, debate it, and decide for themselves how to vote on October 15.

This draft constitution – like all constitutions, including the U.S. Constitution – is a living document.  It is designed to address Iraq’s present political circumstances and based on the present configuration of political forces, but it can and must evolve to address changing circumstances and new challenges in the future.

If the draft constitution is approved in the referendum, it will become a common vision for Iraq and a national compact for Iraqis.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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