President Saddam Hussein addressed the Iraqi nation on state-run radio and television on Saturday appearing to put to rest opposition reports he had suffered a severe stroke.
The 63-year-old Iraqi strongman, in power for 30 years, looked well in a dark brown suit and tie, as he began a speech to mark the 80th anniversary of the formation of the country's armed forces.
"We are celebrating the army that fought the war against Iran and the 'Mother of all battles,'" he said referring to the 1980-88 conflict and the Gulf War of 1991.
Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel broadcast the speech saying it was live from Baghdad, but in the highly secretive Iraqi capital this could not be confirmed.
The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has alleged Saddam had suffered the stroke last Sunday after attending a huge military parade where he was seen by journalists repeatedly firing a rifle held in one hand.
The London-based Iraqi National Congress claimed to have many sources saying Saddam had collapsed shortly after, but admitted they were at best second hand and could not be verified.
On Thursday, Saddam was shown on television vowing in an encounter with a group of Arab artists that the Iraqi people were ready to liberate Palestine and take on both Israel and the United States.
It was the second straight night of state television broadcasts of the Iraqi leader, following the opposition reports.
Exiled Iraqi dissidents say the television appearances of the president may have been doctored with old or pre-recorded footage -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )