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Iraq’s new interim government is ready to take over from the Coalition Provisional Authority when sovereignty is turned over on June 30th. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiite Muslims, says, “It is hoped that this new government will prove its efficiency, honesty, and prove it can achieve the enormous tasks that it is supposedly responsible for.”

On June 8th, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the new interim government in Iraq. The resolution also supports the timetable for Iraq’s transition to a democratic government. This process will include elections for a national assembly no later than January 2005, followed by the drafting of a permanent constitution, and then elections for a full-term government by the end of 2005. Hoshyar Zebari is the interim government’s foreign minister. Mr. Zebari says, “By removing the label of occupation, we will deprive the terrorists and antidemocratic forces of a rallying point to foment violence in our country.”

President George W. Bush says that the U.S.-led coalition’s goal is for Iraq to become a fully sovereign nation with a representative government that protects the rights of Iraqis and serves their needs:

“The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers across the region. A free Iraq will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power.... The will of Iraqis and our coalition is firm. We will not be deterred by violence and terror. We will stand together and ensure that the future of Iraq is a future of freedom.”

Now, with a new interim government ready to take over sovereignty in Iraq, says President Bush, “It’s going to be up to the leaders to prove their worth to Iraqi citizens”:

“The leaders are going to have to show the Iraqis that they’re independent, smart, capable, nationalistic, and believe in the future of Iraq.”

President Bush says that the coalition’s “job is to work with them.”