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Iraq: President Says Constitution Will Show 'New Democratic Iraq Will Remain'


http://gdb.rferl.org/A62049E5-874C-4B2F-A790-AEB5348EDDAD_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/A62049E5-874C-4B2F-A790-AEB5348EDDAD_mw800_mh600.jpg President Jalal Talabani delivering his speech at RFE/RL headquarters Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said today that Iraqis remain determined to build a democratic order after the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He made the remarks in a speech delivered at RFE/RL in Prague. Talabani also said he opposes setting any timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, saying that would only strengthen resistance from insurgents.

Prague, 5 October 2005 (RFE/RL) – President Talabani said it is the determination of Iraqis to build a democratic order that is making Iraq a target for terrorist groups.

"All Iraqis are equal, and dictatorship, in whatever form, will never have a place," Talabani said. "It is this resolve that is making us a target for the terrorists and the forces of darkness, which cannot bear [to] think [about] yet another democracy."

Iraq faces a determined insurgency that includes supporters of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and of Al-Qaeda, as well as a variety of self-declared nationalist and extremist Islamic groups.

But the Iraqi president said that Baghdad hopes that the 15 October referendum on the draft Iraqi constitution will help to quell the insurgency by underlining popular Iraqi support for the government.

In response to a journalist’s question, Talabani said adopting the constitution is not a “cure-all” for Iraq, but that it would demonstrate to everyone -- including insurgents -- that the country is strong and stable.

"I don't say, and no one has said, that only the constitution will solve all the problems of Iraq," Talabani said. "The constitution is not a panacea. The constitution is the constitution. But the constitution will help to convince every Iraqi that the regime is stable, the new democratic Iraq will remain, will survive, and terrorists cannot defeat the will of the Iraqi people."
"The constitution is not a panacea. The constitution is the constitution. But the constitution will help to convince every Iraqi that the regime is stable, the new democratic Iraq will remain, will survive, and terrorists cannot defeat the will of the Iraqi people."


If the draft constitution is adopted in the mid-October referendum, Iraq will hold a national election for a first constitutional government by the end of this year.

Talabani said that it is still too early to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces securing Iraq. He suggested that would only strengthen resistance from insurgent groups.

"With the help of our allies, we are protecting this democracy by building and training our security forces," Talabani said. "We will set no timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces. It will help the terrorists. They will think that they can defeat us. We will not give them any signs that our will to defeat them is weakened."

Talabani also praised RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq for broadcasting to Iraq since 1998, well before the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

"Since 1998, Radio Free Iraq was an important source of in-depth, uncensored, and objective news and information for the people of Iraq, who lived under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein," Talabani said.

The Iraqi president is on a tour of Europe. He arrived in the Czech Republic on 3 October to meet with Czech officials regarding military and economic cooperation. It is his first visit to Europe since assuming the presidency in April.



For a full transcript of Talabani's 5 October address at RFE/RL in Prague, click here.
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