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Bush: It Will Take More Than 100 Days to Undo Saddam's Legacy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2003 – President Bush praised the progress coalition military and civilian personnel have been able to make in Iraq, but said that 100 days is not enough time to undo the legacy of Saddam Hussein.

In his weekly radio address Aug. 9, Bush noted that it is but 100 days since the end of major combat operations in Iraq. He said the time has been marked by steady progress.

"Every day we are working to make Iraq more secure," Bush said. "Coalition forces remain on the offensive against the Baath Party loyalists and foreign terrorists who are trying to prevent order and stability." He said the progress is evident to the Iraqi people as more and more are cooperating with coalition forces and tipping them to the regime remnants still threatening peace.

Iraqis themselves are helping with security. Coalition officials said there are about 30,000 Iraqi police back on the beat, and coalition officials have begun to recruit a new army and a civil defense force.

"Every day, Iraq is making progress in rebuilding its economy," he said. "In Baghdad, the banks have opened, and other banks will open across the country in the coming months. This fall, new bank notes will be issued, replacing the old ones bearing the former dictator's image. And Iraq's energy industry is once again serving the interests of the Iraqi people. More than a million barrels of crude oil and over 2 million gallons of gasoline are being produced daily."

The coalition is paying civil servants with funds recovered from the former regime, and life is returning to normal for the Iraqi people. Bush said hospitals and universities have opened, and in many places, water and other utility services are reaching pre-war levels.

"Across Iraq, nearly all schoolchildren have completed their exams," he said. "And for the first time in many years, a free press is at work in Iraq. Across that country today, more than 150 newspapers are publishing regularly."

But most important, the Iraqi people are taking daily steps toward democratic government, the president noted. "The Iraqi Governing Council, whose 25 members represent all of that diverse country, is meeting regularly, naming ministers and drawing up a budget for the country," he said. These men and women will soon set the conditions to allow a representative group to begin drafting a new constitution and free elections will follow.

Bush pointed out that all major cities and most towns now have representative councils. "Freedom is taking hold in that country, as people gain confidence that the former regime is never coming back," he said.

But much remains to be done, Bush emphasized. "There is difficult and dangerous work ahead that requires time and patience," he said. "Our country and the nations of the Middle East are now safer. We're keeping our word to the Iraqi people by helping them to make their country an example of democracy and prosperity throughout the region. This long-term undertaking is vital to peace in that region and to the security of the United States. Our coalition and the people of Iraq have made remarkable progress in a short time, and we will complete the great work we have begun."

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