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6/28/04 - IRAQIS ASSUME SOVEREIGNTY - 2004-06-29

In Iraq, sovereignty has been turned over to an Iraqi interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq has ceased to exist. The turnover came June 28th, ahead of the originally scheduled July 1st.

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi thanked the U.S.-led coalition for liberating Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein:

“The blood that has been spilled in Iraq has been spilled for a very good reason, for the defense of values, of freedom and democracy and fighting terrorism, and we intend to continue doing so. So, frankly, the security of our country now lies in our hands. Basically, we have the support of the multinational forces, and we look forward to their continued support.”

After three decades of dictatorship and misrule, there is much to do. Iraq’s infrastructure is being rebuilt, schools and medical facilities repaired, and the economy revived. But now Iraqis themselves have taken over responsibility for their own future.

It will be up to the Iraqis to decide on a new constitution and election laws. It will be up to Iraqis to determine the use of their natural resources and to deal with the criminals of the former Saddam Hussein regime. And it will be up to Iraqis to decide how they will do business with the rest of the world.

John Negroponte is the U.S. Ambassador to the newly sovereign Iraq. Ambassador Negroponte says he has a clear mission:

“To offer support and assistance to the Iraqi people and government as Iraq reasserts its full sovereignty. Three mutually-reinforcing objectives underpin this goal: Establishing security by helping the Iraqis defeat terrorists and criminal elements who oppose a free Iraq, promoting economic development, and supporting Iraq’s democratization through elections, promotion of human rights, and the rule of law.”

This is a day of great hope for Iraqis, and a day their enemies hoped never to see, said President George W. Bush at the NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey. “The Iraqi people have their country back.”