Monday, September 08, 2003

Paul Bremer on Iraq's Path to Sovereignity

via OxBlog I read an op-ed By Paul Bremer's Iraq's Path to Sovereignty in today's Washington Post. It s a nice, clean, and consice article. One thing; however, really jumped at me as some unexplained. First Bremer says,

"Elections are the obvious solution to restoring sovereignty to the Iraqi people. But at the present elections are simply not possible. There are no election rolls, no election law, no political parties law and no electoral districts.

The current constitution is a Hussein-dictated formula for tyranny. When Hussein loaded two trucks with money and fled the advancing coalition forces, he left behind a vacuum. Electing a government without a permanent constitution defining and limiting government powers invites confusion and eventual abuse. "

I understand it to mean that there are two problems preventing elections: absence of a Constitution that would define the laws for the elected government and absence of election rolls, registrations, etc. - the operational machinery of holding elections. Fair enough so far. A few paragraphs down, he says,

"Step five, popular ratification of the constitution, is indispensable.

Once written, the constitution will be widely circulated, discussed and debated among the Iraqi people. All adult Iraqis will have the opportunity to vote for or against it. For the first time in history, Iraq will have a permanent constitution written by and approved by the Iraqi people."

Did I miss a step? Who is working on getting the operational side of the elections to happen? How is that popular vote going to be conducted without electoral districts or election rolls? It is, admittedly, not a sinking issue by any means. Perhaps it is a small tactical issue that did not find a space in a terse overview of the Iraqi situation. But it would be nice if someone explained that process, because while we need only to be told that such districts and rolls exist, Iraqis have to have the whole system explained to them. They need to understand that they are not choosing parties and leaders to rule over them, but parties and leaders to serve them. And that is an important thing to understand. I hope some of the 80 billion will go towards that purpose. And what could be more important in building a democtractic country than the understanding of this distinction. A distinction that is easily lost and hard to regain.


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