Iraqis took another historic step toward democracy on Wednesday, as their first freely elected parliament in nearly a half-century convened for the first time. In Washington, President Bush congratulated the Iraqi people and the 275-member interim National Assembly, saying it is a "bright moment" in Iraq's democratic process. The assembly was sworn in at the Baghdad Convention Center inside the heavily protected Green Zone. Its session was mostly ceremonial, as talks are still continuing on power-sharing in the new government.
Insurgents marked the day with several large explosions in Baghdad before and after the assembly session. No casualties were reported. North of the capital, in Baquba, a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint, killing at least four Iraqi soldiers. And the US military said an American soldier was killed in a roadside bomb explosion south of Baghdad.