WHEELING, W.Va. -- President Bush publicly pressured the quarreling Iraqi political factions yesterday to put aside their differences and establish a government.
"It's time for a government to get stood up," he said in the latest of a series of appearances bolstering his Iraq policy.
"There's time for the elected representatives - or those who represent the voters, the political parties - to come together and form a unity government," Bush said. "That's what the people want. Otherwise, they wouldn't have gone to the polls, would they have?"
Three months after the parliamentary election, leaders of Iraq's political factions are still trying to reach an agreement on a president, prime minister and Cabinet members.
The election, which brought voters streaming to the polls in December despite threats of attacks, had raised hope in the Bush administration that after nearly three years of war, the key step toward civilian self-government would itself help defeat the insurgency that continues to cause death and destruction across much of Iraq.
The president's remarks were the closest Bush has come to openly expressing irritation over the delay in negotiating an agreement to assign power.
The president spoke before an overwhelmingly friendly audience of nearly 2,500 in this bedraggled steel town in West Virginia's rugged panhandle.
Yesterday was the fifth consecutive day Bush has spoken publicly about Iraq, part of an administration drive to regain support for the war, which polls indicate has been eroding.
The war entered its fourth year this week.