Iraq's New President
By Rachel Laskow

Iraqi President Sheik Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar speaks during a ceremony for the announcement of the new Iraqi interim government in Baghdad on Tuesday, June 1, 2004. (© Hussein Malla/AP Wide World))

Thursday, June 3—Iraq has a new President. The Iraqi Governing Council chose Sheik Ghazi Ajil al-Yawar to lead the country's interim government. The country also has a new Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi.

"It is my great joy to meet you today on this historical day where Iraq is witnessing the forming and the announcement of this transitional government and the taking on of its responsibilities," said Allawi.

The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council dissolved itself after the new leaders were announced, so that the interim government could get to work right away.

The new government includes the President, Prime Minister, two Vice Presidents, and a 33-member cabinet. It is scheduled to take power on June 30, the day when the U.S. plans to hand over sovereignty, or self-rule, to Iraqis.

"The naming of the new interim government brings us one step closer to realizing the dream of millions of Iraqis: a fully sovereign nation with a representative government that protects their rights and serves their needs," said U.S. President George W. Bush.

The Next Step

United Nations representative Lakhdar Brahimi said that the interim government, along with Iraqi citizens, should now work toward holding national elections. An election is set to take place no later than the end of January 2005.

"I believe the election is the most important [next] step," Brahimi said. "Preparing for it and creating the necessary atmosphere for it are imperative for its success."

Another important task for the transitional government is to improve security within the country.

"I think this is a new beginning. It is not an end. There's lots of hard work ahead," said UN Secretay General Kofi Annan.