WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum today lauds the early transfer of sovereignty to Iraq, two days early. A land once ruled in tyranny is free. A new democratic era has begun.

“This is a moment of undeniable importance for emerging democratic institutions in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world,” said Michelle D. Bernard, a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. “It is the dawn of a new democracy. For it to succeed, women and religious and ethnic minorities must be full participants in the economic, political and social fabric of a democratic Iraq,” said Bernard.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority granted power to Iraq’s interim government at 10:26 a.m. today. The transfer, which was to occur on June 30, 2004, occurred a little more than a year after the war in Iraq began. Under Iraq’s Transitional Administrative Law, Iraq entered the first phase of a transitional period that will expire after an Iraqi government is elected under a permanent constitution. Democratically held elections for the Iraqi National Assembly must take place no later than January 31, 2005. The Iraqi Transitional Government will take office after these elections.

“As Iraq takes its next step towards liberal democracy, the international community must support Iraq’s Interim Government in advancing individual rights for all Iraqis. The fundamental rights of Iraqi women, religious and ethnic minorities must be protected,” said Bernard.