Iraqi security forces and people gather the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq's prime minister says the end of the American military presence in Iraq is a new dawn for his country.
In a celebration Saturday in Baghdad broadcast on state-run Iraqiya TV, Nouri al-Maliki declared the day a national holiday.
Al-Maliki told the Iraqi people that the country has become free and called upon them to preserve its unity and sovereignty.
The prime minister praised Iraqis for getting rid of Saddam Hussein and ending the sectarian conflict.
He said now Iraq is focused on rebuilding the country.
He made no mention of the American military's role in overthrowing Saddam.