The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on Monday, accelerating the move in an attempt to prevent sabotage by insurgents who oppose the rule of the new Iraqi government.
The new interim government was sworn in six hours after the handover ceremony.
With their right hand on the Quran, members of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Cabinet vowed to execute their new duties with sincerity and impartiality. A bank of Iraqi flags lined the podium behind them.
“Before us is a challenge and a burden and we ask God almighty to give us the patience and guide us to take this country whose people deserves all goodness,” said President Ghazi al-Yawer. “May God protect Iraq and its citizens.”
Sovereignty documents were transferred earlier by outgoing U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer to Allawi in a ceremony attended by about a half dozen Iraqi and coalition officials in the heavily guarded Green Zone. “This is a historical day,” Allawi said. “We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation.”
Bremer leaves Iraq
Bremer left Iraq two hours after the ceremony. Bremer was accompanied by coalition spokesman Dan Senor and members of his staff. The interim government will have full sovereignty, yet it will operate under major restrictions, some imposed at the behest of the influential Shiite clergy, which whis to limit the powers this administration.
The Iraqis can in principle ask the foreign troops to leave — although it is unlikely this will happen.
The United States and its coalition partners are hoping that the transfer of power will serve as a boost for Iraqis, who have resisted foreign military occupation. Now that the country has returned to Iraqi control, U.S. officials hope Iraqis will quell the insurgency and work to restore internal stability.