Bush warns terrorists could thwart Iraq vote
* Says US must stay in Iraq after election
WASHINGTON: US President George W Bush said Saturday terrorists would do everything in their power to thwart Sunday’s elections in Iraq, but the “courage of the Iraqi people will allow the vote to take place.
“The terrorists and those who benefitted from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein know that free elections will expose the emptiness of their vision for Iraq,” Bush said in his weekly radio address. “That is why they will stop at nothing to prevent or disrupt this election.
“Yet in the face of this intimidation, the Iraqi people are standing firm,” the president continued. “Tomorrow’s elections will happen because of their courage and determination. All throughout Iraq, these friends of freedom understand the stakes.”
Bush said that terrorist violence will not end with the election. But he insisted that terrorists will fail, because the Iraqi people reject their ideology of murder.
“This election is also important for America,” said the president. “Our nation has always been more secure when freedom is on the march. As hope and freedom spread, the appeal of terror and hate will fade. And there is not a democratic nation in our world that threatens the security of the United States. The best way to ensure the success of democracy is through the advance of democracy.
“As democracy takes hold in Iraq, America’s mission there will continue,” Bush pointed out. “Our military forces, diplomats and civilian personnel will help the newly-elected government of Iraq establish security and train Iraqi military police and other forces.”
He did not mention any possible US withdrawal date from Iraq.
“Over the past year, the world has seen successful elections in Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Palestinian territories,” the president pointed out. “In countries across the broader Middle East, from Morocco to Bahrain, governments are enacting new reforms and increasing participation for their people.” Bush quoted the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for a recent statement in which the Jordanian militant said “we have declared a fierce war against this evil principle.” agencies