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Iraq VP opposes bill allowing reinstatement of ex-Baath party members

[JURIST] Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi [personal website, in Arabic; EPIC profile, PDF] said Thursday that he is opposed to a proposed law that would allow most members of Saddam Hussein's defunct Baath Party [BBC backgrounder] to be reinstated to public life. Al-Hashemi criticized the Accountability and Justice Law [ICTJ backgrounder, PDF], passed by the Iraqi parliament [JURIST report] earlier this month and later endorsed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, because it would require that many Iraqis given jobs following the 2003 US-led invasion of the country be forced to vacate their positions for the former Baathists. Before it can become law, the bill must be ratified by the Iraqi Presidency Council, which consists of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi [BBC profiles], and al-Hashemi. Al-Hashemi said Thursday that Talabani and Abdul-Mahdi also object to the law and will not sign it. Reuters has more.

Iraq set up a De-Baathification Commission [official website] in 2003 with the approval of the US-run Coalition Provisional Authority [official website], and its early agenda was rooting out members of Hussein's Baath party from positions of power in the Iraqi government, prompting the forced removal [JURIST report] of nearly 30,000 Baathists from public life. The Bush administration, however, urged the Iraqi government to shift the commission from outright prohibition to "accountability and reconciliation" in the interests of countering the growing insurgency in the country. Passage of de-Baathification reform legislation was noted by the White House last year as an as-yet-unmet benchmark [JURIST report] of Iraqi progress towards stability. Iraqi Shiite religious leader Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani has previously called the bill "dangerous" [JURIST report] and the bill's passage stalled [JURIST report] as recently as late November 2007.

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