Rice Congratulates Iraqis on Submission of Draft Constitution

Negotiators request three more days to make amendments

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice congratulated Iraq and its constitutional committee on the submission of a draft constitution to the Transitional National Assembly August 22.

“The process by which Iraqis have reached this point is historic and in the best tradition of democracy,” Rice said in a written statement following the submission of the document. “From Iraq’s first free elections in January, to the creation of an inclusive transitional government in the spring, to today’s draft constitution, free Iraqis have shown determination and resolve in the face of extremism and violence.”

The constitutional committee submitted the document to the Transitional National Assembly shortly before the midnight deadline with the provision that the committee may propose amendments to the text over the next three days. Negotiators said that there are still a number of outstanding issues to be resolved, including federalism, the division of powers within the government and de-Ba'athification. The negotiators hope to resolve these issues to all parties’ satisfaction in order to ensure the broadest support for the document.

“In a statesmanlike decision, the men and women of the Assembly have decided to use the next three days to continue reaching out to build the broadest national consensus for Iraq’s new Constitution,” Rice said.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan praised the negotiators for the progress they made in overcoming key sticking points over the past week.

“The progress made over the past week has been impressive, with consensus reached on most provisions through debate, dialogue, and compromise. This is the essence of democracy, which is difficult and often slow, but leads to durable agreements, brokered by representatives that reflect the interests and values of free people,” he said.

Once the text is amended and complete, it will be submitted to the Iraqi voters for consideration. Iraqis will have the opportunity to accept or reject the proposed constitution in an October 15 referendum. If accepted, the document will serve as the basis for a new round of national elections December 15.

The texts of the Rice and McClellan statements

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