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Australia welcomes formation of Iraqi Governing Council.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA85 14 July 2003

AUSTRALIA WELCOMES FORMATION OF IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL

I welcome the formation of an interim Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad overnight.

This marks a significant step in the transition from coalition administration to Iraqi rule. After decades of brutal dictatorial rule led by Saddam Hussein, a Council of Iraqis reflecting the religious, ethnic and tribal makeup of Iraqi society now has a say in decisions affecting Iraq’s destiny. Particularly pleasing is the inclusion of several women.

The Council demonstrates the coalition’s good faith in moving as rapidly as possible to return power to the Iraqi people. Its formation and comprehensive membership reflects the considerable efforts of the Coalition Provisional Authority and its Administrator, Ambassador Paul Bremer III.

The nature of Saddam’s regime meant that most Iraqis were denied the opportunity to take decisions affecting the shape and operation of their government and society. Iraqi representatives will now have the opportunity to debate and decide issues relating to their own government. Through the Council and local councils being established in cities and towns across Iraq, Iraqis will develop the skills, aided by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which they will need to take charge of their country.

I discussed the transition process with a number of the leaders on the Council during my visit to Baghdad in May. I was impressed with their seriousness of purpose and commitment to a better future for the Iraqi people. Their aim is for Iraqis to live without fear and for Iraqi resources to be used to better the lives of all sections of the population.

Australia will continue to play a significant role in the rehabilitation of Iraq. Fifteen Australian advisers are working within the Coalition Provisional Authority, providing specialist advice on the rebuilding of Iraq’s agriculture, administration and economy.

Media enquiries: Nicole Guihot (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet. http://www.dfat.gov.au/