The US transfers sovereignty – in name – to the new Iraqi government:

In a surprise, secret ceremony that was hastily convened to decrease the chances of more violence, United States officials today handed over sovereignty to Iraqi leaders, formally ending the American occupation two days earlier than scheduled. In a tightly guarded room behind high walls, L. Paul Bremer III, the top United States administrator, presented a formal letter recognizing Iraq’s sovereignty to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. 30 or so people were present for what Dr. Allawi described as the “historic” handover.

A few hours later, Mr. Bremer flew off on a military plane, leaving behind a country stunned by the sudden transfer of authority. Shortly afterward, Dr. Allawi was formally sworn in as Prime Minister. “This is a historic day,” said the Iraqi interim president, Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar . “We want a free, democratic Iraq that will be a source of peace and stability for the region and the whole world. We would like to express our thanks to our friends in the Coalition for the efforts and dedication they have spent.”…United States officials said the handover — to an interim government, in advance of general elections expected in January — is the crucial first step on Iraq’s path to democracy.

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