Iraq law to lift ban on Baathists

The Iraqi government plans to bring in a new law to allow former members of ex-president Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to official posts.

Iraq law to lift ban on Baathists

The bill creates a three-month period for ex-Baath members to be challenged,after which they will be immune from prosecution over their actions under Saddam'sformer regime, which was predominantly Sunni.

The law would exclude ex-Baath members charged with crimes or still soughtfor them. But it would grant state pensions to many former Baathist employeesand their families, even if they are not given new posts.

If approved, the bill will replace a deeply flawed legislation that wascreated after the2003 US-led invasion to eject tens of thousands of army andgovernment officials belonging to the Baath party. 

The original de-Baathification law and the disbanding of Saddam Huseyin's militaryhas been widely criticized as a key U.S. policy mistake that fueled Iraq'sdeadly violence.

Many Baathist were reinstated after Washingtondiscovered that it cleared out the army and key ministries without having anyreplacements. 

Iraqi government officials believe that bringing former Baathists, a largepart of the educated and professional elite under Saddam, into the politicalprocess and civil service would promote national reconciliation and curb theongoing violence.

Washingtonalso argues that the new law is needed to win over minority Sunnis

"Reconciliation" 

The new legislation, called the Accountability and Reconciliation Law, needsministerial approval before being passed onto parliament for final approval.

It will be presented to the cabinet by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia,and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd.

In a joint statement, both leaders said they wanted to build a democratic Iraq free fromsectarianism, racism and discrimination.

"This law will be a pillar in building national reconciliation and instarting the process of healing and rehabilitation," the statement read.

Sami al-Askari, a leading lawmaker close to Maliki, told AFP thebill would be considered in upcoming cabinet meetings, but declined to saywhen. 

Outgoing U.S. ambassadorto Iraq,Zalmay Khalilzad, a Sunni Muslim, welcomed the new law as a "significantstep in the right direction" towards national reconciliation.

He said the legislation would give ex-Baathists "the opportunity toreturn to their jobs, provided they were not at the highest levels of theformer regime and have not been involved in criminal activity".

Opposition

The bill has been opposed by several MPs, who cast doubt on whether it wouldhave a practical effect.

The Shia chairman of the current de-Baathification program, Ali al-Lami,said the proposed law was "unconstitutional" and would"reinstate employees of Saddam's security agencies and paramilitaryforces".

Sunni MPs were also skeptical, voicing doubts that former Baathists wouldreturn in the current climate of Shia-Sunni tensions. 

"I doubt they (the Baathists) will return," said Dhafer al-Ani, aprominent lawmaker from the National Concord Front, the main Sunni bloc inparliament.

"There is a program by some political parties and militias to finishthem (Baathists) up. So the law is not effective in practice."

Analysts say the Iraqi government might approve the new law to ease pressurefrom predominantly Sunni neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The bill was announced as Arab foreign ministers prepared to meet onWednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh

Source:Agencies 

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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