Wed, May 19, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Bremer says handover will go ahead

MOURNING CEREMONYThe US administrator in Iraq says the killing of Governing Council chief Ezzedine Salim will not stop the US from handing over power to Iraqis under a provisional government

AFP , BAGHDAD

US administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer, right, and Ghazi Ajil al-Yawer, left, the new president of the Iraqi Governing Council, walk next to a picture of Ezzedin Salim during a commemoration ceremony in Baghdad yesterday. Iraqi Governing Council President Ezzedine Salim was killed in a suicide car bombing Monday at the gates of the US administration headquarters in Baghdad.

PHOTO: EPA

US overseer in Iraq Paul Bremer told mourners at the funeral of slain Governing Council chief Ezzedine Salim in Baghdad yesterday that the drive to hand power over to Iraqis at the end of June would go on.

In an address, Bremer said "terrorists" had tried to stop the march to sovereignty but Salim had dedicated himself to taking Iraq to a provisional government next month and to elections next year.

"Ezzedine Salim gave his life for this cause and we honor his life and memory by continuing that quest."

Earlier, eight members of Iraq's paramilitary security force carried the coffin draped with two Iraqi flags past a large black flag and photograph of Salim into the offices of the Governing Council at the headquarters of the US-led coalition ruling Iraq.

About 100 mourners gathered around the coffin for the ceremony, including Bremer, the UN special envoy for Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi and the man who took over the presidency of the US-appointed council from Salim, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar.

Bremer offered condolences to Salim's family and paid tribute to the "penetrating scholar" and "wonderful human being" who had been taken away by the "enemies of Iraq."

The ceremony, carried out amid tight security, was held in front of a large picture of the bearded Salim, who was heading the council for the month of May when he was killed in a bomb attack on Monday.

"Through the last 10 months Ezzedine Salim has worked tirelessly to build a new Iraq ... a democratic Iraq, a prosperous Iraq and an Iraq at peace with itself," Bremer said.

"On behalf of the United States and all the members of the coalition, I extend the deepest sympathies to Ezzedine Salim's family."

Brahimi, who was in Iraq to discuss plans for the make-up of a provisional government beyond the June 30 handover date, said Salim's only wish had been for a united and peaceful Iraq moving beyond the tragedies of the past.

"Ezzedine Salim was looking forward to everyone giving a hand to building this Iraq," he said.

Sheikh Ghazi also paid tribute to Salim. "His conviction and his determination remains with us," he said.

The 30-minute ceremony concluded with mourners filing quietly from the building and expressing their condolences to members of Salim's family gathered at the door.

The pall bearers from the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps lifted the coffin from a podium in the center of the simply furnished room and carried it from the building as some women employees of the Governing Council wept.

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