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5/25/04 - IRAQI SOVEREIGNTY - 2004-05-25

In Iraq, twelve government ministries are now under the direct control of Iraqis. On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will be dissolved and Iraqis will have full governing authority. President George W. Bush says, “The June 30th transfer of sovereignty is an essential commitment of [coalition] strategy”:

“By keeping our promise on June 30th, the coalition will demonstrate that we have no interest in occupation. And full sovereignty will give Iraqis a direct interest in the success of their own government. Iraqis will know that when they build a school or repair a bridge, they’re not working for the Coalition Provisional Authority, they are working for themselves. And when they patrol the streets of Baghdad, or engage radical militias, they will be fighting for their own country.”

But the U.S. “is not going to simply hand over power and then withdraw,” says Secretary of State Colin Powell. The U.S. will remain in Iraq “to provide a security framework upon which the Iraqi leaders can then begin to build their institutions”:

“We’re not going to walk away. We’re not going to cut and run. We’re going to stay and help the Iraqis do what we know the Iraqi people want, and that is to have a democracy based on free elections. It takes time to get there, and we are on our way with the creation of an Iraqi interim government.”

“The people of Iraq are ready to exercise the [right of] self-determination,” says Ayatollah Sadreddin Qapanchi of Najaf. “All they ask is to be given a chance to choose their government,” says the cleric. “Iraq should not be thrown to those who seek power through violence.”