And so it begins

Amid explosions and low world expectations, Iraq's first freely elected parliament in half a century was sworn into office today.

"It is a great day in Iraqi history that its elected representatives meet," said Fuad Masoum, a Kurdish delegate. "This day coincides with a painful memory that has many meanings. ... Today, on this occasion, we celebrate the inauguration of parliament after the fall of this regime."

Wednesday marked the anniversary of the Saddam Hussein-ordered chemical attack in 1988 on the northern Kurdish town of Halabja, an attack that killed 5,000 people.

Iraqi leaders have not yet agreed on a coalition government, and the leader of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, cleric Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, said his alliance hoped to "form a government whose motto is to serve the Iraqi people, a government of national unity and reconciliation."

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There is no doubt that Iraq has a long way to go in becoming a fully functioning and self sustaining democracy.

They've yet to form their government. There are still problems with security and as in all nations there is infighting and bickering amongst the participants.

However the Iraqis have shown time and again that they have the heart and soul to see this process through to fruition.

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