In a surprise move, US officials have officially handed over power to the interim Iraq Governing Council today, two days ahead of schedule. An
informal announcement came from Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and it has been confirmed by Tony Blair. The two met earlier today in
Istanbul, Turkey, during this week's NATO summit.
At 2:26am EST, the official transfer took place as Ambassador Paul Bremer signed the legal documents to transfer power. Bremer left Iraq "with his
work boots on" around 4:30am EST.
The interim government will be led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The country will have full sovereignty, but will have several restrictions on a
temporary basis. They cannot make long-term policy decisions and will not have any control over the more than 160,000 foreign troops who will remain
In related news, Iraq will be given legal
control over ousted leader Saddam Hussein, but physical control will remain with the multi-national
forces currently keeping him imprisoned. Hussein will appear before an Iraqi court in the coming weeks and be legally indicted by the country he once
led. It is expected a death penalty will be handed down by the Iraqi judicial system.
Zebari cited the escalating violence in Iraq as one of the reasons for the move. "We will challenge these elements in Iraq, the anti-democratic
elements, by even bringing the handover of sovereignty before June 30 as a sign we are ready for it," he said.
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has stated the plan for a democratic election in January is still on track.
President George Bush has sent a letter to Iyad Allawi requesting requesting diplomatic relations with the government of Iraq. It is a largely
symbolic move showing that the United States recognizes Iraq as sovereign.
Related News Stories:
Timeline of Iraq's Sovereignty
Related ATSNN/TA Stories
Myths of the Iraq Handover
[edit on 28-6-2004 by Banshee]
[edit on 6-28-2004 by Valhall]
[edit on 6-30-2004 by Valhall]