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8/28/03 - IRAQ MOVES TOWARD DEMOCRACY - 2003-08-29


As President George W. Bush said, “Every sign of progress in Iraq adds to the desperation of the terrorists and the remnants of Saddam’s brutal regime.” That is why these evildoers bombed the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on August 19th.

But President Bush made it clear that “the civilized world will not be intimidated”:

“And these killers will not determine the future of Iraq. The Iraqi people have been liberated from a dictator. Iraq is on a irreversible course toward self-government and peace.”

A twenty-five member national governing council includes three women and Shia, Sunni, Kurdish, Turkmen, and Christian representatives. The council is creating a commission to write a new Iraqi constitution. After the constitution is approved, elections will be held that will lead to a fully sovereign Iraqi government.

There is already local self-government in Iraq. Municipal councils are operating in all major cities and in more than eighty-percent of Iraqi towns. Council members manage health care, water, and electricity.

The Office of Human Rights and Transitional Justice in Iraq is working to locate missing persons. Unfortunately, many have already been found -- buried in mass graves. In addition to investigating past atrocities, the office will promote human rights in the newly liberated Iraq.

Today, more than one-hundred-fifty newspapers are published, offering Iraqis access to many different kinds of information. Saad al-Bazzaz, editor of the Azzaman Daily in Baghdad, said, “We can’t train staff fast enough. People are desperate here for a neutral free press after thirty years of a totalitarian state.”

Books banned by Saddam’s regime are now available in bookstores. Artists are free to display their works and poets are free to write. Foreign publications and radio and television broadcasts are also available. Satellite dishes are popular consumer purchases.

As Alaa’ Kathem, an Iraqi soccer player, put it: “We felt better after the regime fell. . . . We have been freed from our nightmare.”

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