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10/7/03 - POWELL ON IRAQ PROGRESS - 2003-10-07

The U.S.-led coalition is helping the Iraqi people to build a self-governing nation. Iraqi police, border guards, and a new army are being trained so that the Iraqi people can assume full responsibility for their own security.

Iraq now has a governing council that is leading the process of drafting a constitution and holding elections. A free Iraqi press is functioning. As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell points out, steady progress is being made:

“Schools opening, hospitals functioning, reaching the point where in the next few months the Oil for Food program will be phased out and a substitute program will be in place. We are seeing improvements in sanitation, in sewage. We expect the cellular [telephone] system to be coming back online in the near future as contracts are issued.”

The U-S, says Mr. Powell, is anxious to return full authority to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible:

“But at the same time, recognizing that much work has to be done before one can do that. Ministries have to come up, institutions have to be in place, a constitution has to be in place. Otherwise, what are you resting the nation on, to whom are you giving authority, and with what authority will they act, unless it’s the authority contained in a constitution, and unless the people in charge of executing that constitution have the legitimacy of an election based on that constitution?”

It will take time for Iraq to overcome decades of dictatorship and misrule. As Secretary of State Powell put it, “We will take the time necessary to make sure that the Iraqi people, when they do assume full control of their country again, do it in a way that will make sure that the country is stable, living in peace with its neighbors, is democratic, and will be a pride to the people of Iraq.”