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8/24/03 - IRAQ DRAFTS A CONSTITUTION - 2003-08-26

More than one-hundred days have passed since major combat operations in Iraq ceased. The Saddam Hussein regime is gone and the difference, says President George W. Bush, is clear to the Iraqi people:

"The Iraqi people are making steady progress in building a stable society and beginning to form a democratic government. Iraq's new governing council represents the nation's diverse groups. In the months ahead, Iraqis will begin drafting a new constitution and this will prepare the way for elections."

The Iraqi governing council is made up of twenty-five representatives of Iraq's diverse population, including Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, and Christians. Council president Ibrahim Jafari says its task "is to move with all segments of society to decide on the best mechanism for writing a draft of the constitution."

For ordinary Iraqis, choosing a government is a dream come true. "I helped deliver thousands of Iraqi babies," says Raja Habib al-Khaza'i, director of an Iraqi maternity hospital and a member of the governing council. "Now I am taking part in the birth of a new country and a new rule based on women's rights, humanity, unity, and freedom."

The U.S. and its coalition allies are working with the Iraqi people as they establish their own institutions. A new police force and military, dedicated to upholding the rule of law, are being trained. President George W. Bush says other essential institutions are also being reformed:

"Hospitals and universities have opened. For the first time, a free press is operating in Iraq. Across Iraq nearly all school children have completed their exams and now those children are receiving a real education without the hateful propaganda of Saddam Hussein."

Jafar Adel Amar, a tool salesman in Iraq, said that under Saddam Hussein, "you never knew who was sitting next to you. . . . No one would speak out." Now, he says, "everybody is talking about federalism" and other forms of government for Iraq. "I think our aims are just one, to eliminate persecution for anyone ever again."