Bremer Says Democracy Is "on the Move" in Iraq

 

Thursday  July 9, 2003
(Says local and national councils transforming Iraqi politics) (920)

"Democracy is on the move in Iraq," U.S. Administrator L. Paul Bremer
told reporters in Baghdad July 8.

After appearing as a guest at the first meeting of Baghdad's 37-member
municipal council, Bremer said he was struck by both the diversity and
the energy of the councilors.

"They have seized the opportunity to participate in the running of
their country with enthusiasm and vigor. I look forward to seeing the
same in other parts of the country," he said. He also noted that all
the major cities and 90 percent of Iraq's major towns now have
governing councils.

Bremer reaffirmed earlier announcements that a national Iraqi
"governing council" will be in place before the end of July.

According to Bremer, the council will form one element, the first, of
an Iraqi-lead administration that will serve until democratic
elections can be held. Members will have the following
responsibilities.

-- They will need to bring together the views of all Iraqis and
translate these into policies and decisions.

-- They will be asked to select interim ministers to lead the civil
service.

-- They will participate in launching the process to write a new
constitution, which in turn will lay the basis for Iraq's democratic
future.

Following is the text of Bremer's opening statement at his July 8,
press conference in Baghdad.

(begin text)

OPENING STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR BREMER 
U.S. ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY
PRESS CONFERENCE IN BAGHDAD
8 JULY 2003

Good afternoon. Let me start as usual with a short statement before I
take your questions.

In the past 24 hours we have made important progress in transforming
Iraq's economy and establishing the basis for a democratic system of
government.

I made several significant economic announcements yesterday. Firstly,
the budget: I've now agreed the budget for the rest of 2003. This is a
back-to-work budget: I want to get Iraq and Iraqis back to work, while
we also address important long-term priorities.

This budget will inject a significant amount of money into the
economy, and into capital projects in particular. For example, 440
billion dinars is earmarked for the electricity sector, 110 billion
for water and sewage, 225 billion for telecommunications, and 315
billion for public health. All these sectors are in desperate need of
investment, after being starved of investment for so many years by the
Saddam regime. This health budget, for example, represents a seven
thousand per cent increase in spending on public health, compared to
the last six months under Saddam Hussein.

I have emphasized before how damaged this economy is after more than
thirty years of catastrophic mismanagement. It will take time to turn
it into a healthy, free-market economy, which can provide jobs for the
60% of Iraqis who are currently unemployed. So a lot of this budget is
aimed at improving life now for Iraqis, by investing in areas which
impact their daily lives. But at the same time, we are starting to
take the economic steps needed to get wealth-creating and job-creating
industries going, and to encourage investment.

I also announced yesterday that we will shortly start printing new
banknotes, which will give Iraqis new confidence in their currency,
and make it much easier for them to do business. And I announced that
the Central Bank of Iraq is now independent from the Ministry of
Finance and other parts of the Iraqi government and civil service. All
these are important steps in laying the foundations for substantial
economic growth in the years ahead.

The other key task for the coalition is helping to build the
democratic institutions to safeguard Iraq's new-found freedom, and to
ensure a proper participatory system of government for the first time
in this country. Yesterday, I was invited to the launch of the Baghdad
City Advisory Council, the 37 men and women selected by Baghdadis to
represent their views to Iraqi officials and to the Coalition
Authority. I was struck by both the diversity and the energy of those
councilors. They have seized the opportunity to participate in the
running of their country with enthusiasm and vigor. I look forward to
seeing the same in other parts of the country. All the major cities,
and 90% of Iraq's major towns now have governing councils, taking
responsibility for how their towns and cities are managed. Democracy
is on the move in Iraq

Meanwhile, I hope to see a governing council -- the first body of an
Iraqi Interim Administration -- in place within the next couple of
weeks. My team and I have traveled to every part of this very diverse
country. We have spoken to literally thousands of Iraqis from all
walks of life. We want to ensure that the governing council which
emerges is truly representative of all Iraqis -- Shi'a and Sunni, men
and women, Kurd and Arab, secular, religious, tribal and urban. When
this group comes together, they will have an enormously important role
to play:

-- They will need to bring together the views of all Iraqis and
translate these into policies and decisions.

-- They will be asked to select interim ministers to lead the civil
service.

-- They will participate in launching the process to write a new
constitution, which in turn will lay the basis for Iraq's democratic
future.

This council will help the coalition in our joint task of rebuilding
this country, and in translating Iraqis' hopes for the future into
reality.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

HOME

Copyright 2014  Q Madp  PO Box 86888  Portland OR 97286-0888  www.OurWarHeroes.org