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4/24/03 - GARNER IN IRAQ - 2003-04-25

The U.S.-led coalition is working to return the government of Iraq to the people of Iraq. Iraq's postwar civil administrator, retired U.S. General Jay Garner, is leading that effort:

"I don't rule anything. I'm the coalition facilitator to establish a different environment where these people can pull things together themselves and begin a self-government process and with our assistance, begin the reconstruction process and end up with a democracy that represents the freely-elected will of the Iraqi people."

Mr. Garner said his first priority is restoring essential services, like water and electricity. At the same time, the civil administration will work with exile groups, former opposition figures, and tribal and religious leaders to create an interim authority to govern Iraq. As Mr. Garner said, the goal is for the people of Iraq to rebuild Iraq:

"We are going to help them where we can, where we can provide them with supplies, where we can get things for them, where we can give them assistance, we'll do that. But they are going to fix this country. And I have all the faith in the world that that is going to happen."

The ultimate goal, said Mr. Garner, is to lay the foundations for political freedom, individual rights and the rule of law in Iraq:

"We have together this small moment of time to begin a process of democratic government throughout Iraq that will take the wonders of Iraq and the wealth of Iraq and give it to the Iraqi people".

Democratic institutions cannot be imposed on Iraq from the outside; the U.S.-led coalition can help to create the stability and security that are necessary for a free society to take root. Creating a free, democratic Iraq is the right -- and the responsibility -- of the Iraqi people.