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Bush, Rice, U.N.'s Annan Welcome Passage of Iraqi Constitution Draft

All three say constitutional vote indicates Iraqis' desire for democracy

Posted: October 25, 2005 Related Item: Bush assures Iraqi Kurdish leader of continued support  

Iraqi children submit their parents' votes on the draft constitution in Iraq. President Bush praised Iraq's elections commission for certifying the passage of the constitution Tuesday, October 25. "Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy," the president said. (© AP/WWP)

Washington -- President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have welcomed the announcement from the Iraqi electoral commission that voters have approved Iraq’s draft constitution in a referendum October 15.

"With their courageous vote, the Iraqi people have once again proved their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence," Bush said in a speech in Washington October 25.

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq released the preliminary results of the referendum on the draft constitution October 25. Election officials reported that more than 78 percent of the voters approved the document.

The president said the draft constitution guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. He noted that many more Sunnis cast ballots in the referendum than in the elections in January for a transitional government.

Bush related an anecdote of an 85-year-old woman casting her vote in favor of the constitution after her son carried her on his back to the polls.

"She said, 'I went out to vote for it because I want the future to be safe and peaceful for my sons and my grandchildren,'" the president said.

In expressing congratulations to the Iraqi people on the passage of the document, Secretary Rice said, "Iraqis have met every challenge before them, from the transfer of sovereignty and the elections last January to the writing of the constitution and the holding of the referendum."

Rice said she hopes that all Iraqis will turn out to vote in the December 15 elections to choose the first permanent government of a free Iraq.

"As Iraq enters this new phase in its history, the United States vows its continued support," she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Annan called the referendum an "historic event," which he hopes will mark a milestone on Iraq's path to democracy, according to a statement issued by the United Nations.

He said the high voter turnout throughout the country and among all the main political groups despite threats of violence against them was a "welcome sign of their desire to choose ballots rather than bullets to express their political views."

The secretary-general expressed a hope that the adoption of the constitution will encourage a spirit of national reconciliation and an inclusive political process in the effort to build a democratic and united Iraq.

"The United Nations will continue to make every effort to support the efforts of the Iraqi people and government to that end," he said.

For additional information, see Iraq’s Political Process.

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