U.S. Hands Power to Iraqis Two Days Early
The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days early Monday in a surprise move that apparently caught insurgents off guard, averting a feared campaign of attacks to sabotage the historic step toward self-rule.
Legal documents transferring sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to chief justice Midhat al-Mahmood in a small ceremony in the heavily guarded Green Zone. Bremer took charge in Iraq about a year ago. “This is a historical day … a day that all Iraqis have been looking forward to,” said Iraqi President Ghazi Al-Yawer. “This is a day we are going to take our country back into the international forum.” Militants had conducted a campaign of car bombings, kidnappings and other violence that killed hundreds of Iraqis in recent weeks and was designed to disrupt the transfer, announced by the Bush administration late last year. Intially, the Americans were thought to have planned for about one more year of occupation. Full Story