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11/23/03 - TOWARD AN INDEPENDENT IRAQ - 2003-11-24

The transfer of power to democratic institutions in Iraq is well underway. The Iraqi Governing Council has been operating since July and has appointed the heads of Iraqi ministries. There are more than two-hundred fifty governing councils at the local level. An Iraqi runs the central bank, and an Iraqi council of judges has been established to supervise the judicial system. The next step will be to draft a constitution.

For a new Iraqi government to succeed, it must demonstrate that it can meet the basic needs of the people. With help from the U.S.-led coalition, the lives of Iraqis are improving. Oil production now exceeds two-million barrels a day and provides revenues for Iraqi salaries and other governmental expenses. Production of electricity has reached prewar levels. Iraq’s educational system has been reestablished. And nearly one-hundred thousand Iraqi students have applied to universities.

International aid agencies are helping to restore the southern Iraq marshlands drained by the Saddam Hussein regime in an attempt to rid the area of political opponents. The U.S. Agency for International Development is also helping to reclaim Iraq’s agricultural land.

President George W. Bush says that securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands:

“American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women’s rights, training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis themselves -- police and border guards and local officials -- are joining in the work and they are sharing the sacrifice.”

With each day, Iraq is moving closer to the time when it can govern itself.