|Saturday March 6,
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week terrorists launched a series of attacks in Iraq, targeting religious sites in Baghdad and Karbala, during commemorations marking the Shia holy day of Ashoura. Laura and I and the American people were filled with grief and anger at these terrible acts of murder, which took the lives of dozens of innocent Iraqis.
Some of these killers behind these attacks are supporters of Saddams former regime. Others are foreign terrorists. All of them are determined to halt and reverse all progress toward freedom in Iraq. One of the terrorist leaders, a killer named Zarqawi, recently wrote to a senior al Qaeda terrorist of his plan to tear Iraq apart with ethnic violence, to undermine Iraqi security forces, to demoralize our coalition, and to prevent the rise of a sovereign, democratic government. The killers strategy will fail.
Immediately after the attacks, the world saw members of Iraqs Governing Council and other Iraqis quickly condemn the bombings, and voice their determination that their country will be peaceful and free. The Iraqi people refuse to live in fear, and so do the members of our coalition. Fighting alongside the people of Iraq, we will defeat the terrorists who seek to plunge Iraq into chaos and violence, and we will stand with the people of Iraq for as long as necessary to build a stable, peaceful and successful democracy.
The Iraqi people are making excellent progress. Members of the Governing Council are having a free and open and spirited debate as they complete a new framework for governing their nation. This transitional administrative law will result in protecting the rights of all Iraqis, and will move the country toward a democratic future.
A year ago, Iraqs only law was the whim of one brutal man. When the new law takes effect, Iraqis will, for the first time in decades, live under the clear protections of a written bill of rights. Under this law, all Iraqis will be treated equally. No religious or ethnic groups will be favored, and none will suffer discrimination at the hands of the state.
The law will protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, the right to organize political parties, the right to vote in fair elections, and the right to worship according to ones own conscience. The law also will guarantee the right to a speedy, fair and open trial. No Iraqi will ever again have to fear the midnight knock of the secret police.
The transitional administrative law will establish a clear path for the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty on June 30th of this year. Our coalition of 34 countries and the United Nations will continue to work closely with the Iraqi people as they progress toward this goal.
The law calls for the election of a transitional national assembly by January 31, 2005. Later that year, this assembly will draft a new constitution to be ratified by the Iraqi people. And by the end of next year, the Iraqi people will elect a parliament and establish a government that is fully representative and truly free.
Difficult work in creating a new Iraqi government remains. Yet Iraqis are equal to the tasks before them. The Iraqi people have shown the world that they are fully capable of living in freedom.
Thank you for listening.
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