08/03/2004

Straw welcomes signing of Iraqi interim constitution

The Foreign Secretary has welcomed the official signing of the interim constitutional document by the Iraqi governing council.

The signing ceremony took place in the capital Baghdad today and is the template for governance after the official handover of power from the US-led administration to the governing council in July.

The 25-member council each took it in turn to sign the document at the convention centre. The constitution – as the new Transitional Administrative Law – recognises Islam as the state religion, recognises equal rights and entitlements for all of Iraq's citizens and provides for a full election by December 31 2005.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "This is a significant achievement and I want to pay tribute to all parties to this agreement, for their patience and for the spirit of consensus in which they have negotiated it.

"This is the clearest demonstration to date of the strong desire to build a free, stable and democratic society in Iraq, despite the terrorist violence which seeks to deny the people of Iraq the future they want."

He added: "The transitional law opens with the words: 'We the Iraqi people, striving to reclaim our freedom....'

"A year ago, those words would have been unimaginable. The transitional law sets out the path Iraq will take to democracy. The people of Iraq will continue to have our full support as they work for their freedom."

(gmcg)

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