From the New York Times/AP:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government Monday, speeding the move by two days in an apparent bid to surprise insurgents and prevent them from trying to sabotage the step toward self rule.
Militants had conducted a campaign of car bombings, kidnappings and other violence that killed hundreds of Iraqis in recent weeks and was designed to disrupt the transfer, announced by the Bush administration late last year. Intially, the Americans were thought to have planned for about one more year of occupation.
Legal documents transferring sovereignty were handed over by U.S. governor L. Paul Bremer to chief justice Mahdi al-Mahmood in a small ceremony attended by about a half dozen Iraqi and coalition officials in the heavily guarded Green Zone. Bremer took charge in Iraq about a year ago.
“This is a historical day,” Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said during the ceremony. “We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation.”
Bremer left Iraq on a U.S. Air Force C-130 about 12:30 p.m., said Robert Tappan, an official of the former coalition occupation authority. He was accompanied by coalition spokesman Dan Senor and close members of his staff.
Why stand on ceremony when you could end up getting your head handed to you?