06-28-04 - (Baghdad, Iraq-AP) In a surprise move, the US-led coalition has transferred power two days ahead of schedule. The decision is apparently aimed at catching insurgents off-guard.
Iraqi officials are not wasting any time. On Monday, the new interim government was been formally sworn in, just six hours after the transfer. In the swearing-in ceremony, members of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's new government each stepped forward to place their right hand on the Muslim holy book. They pledged to accept their new duties with sincerity and without prejudice. Behind them stood a row of Iraqi flags. Iraq's interim president says the new leaders face "a challenge and a burden." He asked for God's help.
Most world leaders are welcoming the surprise news of the early transfer of power in Iraq today, but few expect it will bring an end to the escalating violence there. Both supporters and opponents of the war say they wish the new administration well as it faces major challenges in the months ahead.
Poland has been a staunch supporter of the war effort. That country's deputy defense minister said that the new government's taking of responsibility "is very good."
Opponents of the war, France and Germany, are also hailing the transfer as a very important milestone in the move toward a self-ruling Iraq.
The Philippines is congratulating the new Iraqi government. Russian and Syrian analysts are not as optimistic however, saying the transfer won't change anything, and violence will continue to increase.