Iraq parliament passes Baath law

New bill allows members of Saddam Hussein's party to return to public life.

    The new law is aimed at easing mistrust between Sunnis and Shias [EPA]

    "The law has been passed. We see it as a very good sign of progress and it will greatly benefit Baathists," Rasheed al-Azzawi, a Sunni member of the committee which helped modify some of the language of the law, said.

    "It was passed smoothly and opposition was small."

    Reconciliation effort

    The bill is regarded by the US as vital to reconciliation efforts in Iraq but had been stalled before parliament by hardline Shias who demanded that it also include measures to compensate victims of Saddam's regime.

    The new law will allow thousands of former party members to apply for reinstatement in the civil service and military, while pensions will be given to a smaller group of more senior members still banned from public life.

    It makes a distinction between two categories of Baath party officials who have been barred from state employment since 2003.

    Only senior party leaders who were in the top five of the party's ten levels and who implemented the oppressive policies of Saddam's government would remain subject to the ban.
     
    Middle-ranking officials and those in the bottom five levels of the party structure would be able to resume government jobs.

    US officials hope the new law will go some way towards easing mistrust between Shias and Sunnis in Iraq.

    However Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's Iraq correspondent, said the fact that only 143 members of parliament approved the law, just three more than the quorom of 140, meant there was some opposition to the bill.

    She said that immediately following the parliamentary session a press conference was called by several opposition parties, including that of the former prime minister Ayad Allawi.

    They said the new law will only increase divisions in Iraq and further isolate Baathists who are excluded from the legislation

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    The War in October: What Happened in 1973?

    Al Jazeera examines three weeks of war from which both Arabs and Israelis claimed to emerge victorious.