02/04/2008, 00.00
IRAQ
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Law reintegrating low-level Baathists approved

The measure was not signed by the Sunni vice president, who thinks that it opens the way to possible vendettas and is contrary to national reconciliation.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iraq's presidency council has approved the controversial Justice and Accountability Law, which again permits the lower ranks of the former Baath Party of Saddam Hussein to hold government posts.  The so-called law of 'de-Baathification' was approved by the Iraqi National Assembly last January 12th, and the only thing required for its promulgation was approval of the presidency. 

But the new norm has been passed without the signature of the Sunni representative on the council, vice president Tariq al-Hashemi. Al-Hashemi had announced last week that he could not support the text, in that it opened a the way to possible vendettas contrary to national reconciliation.  For this reason, al-Hashemi maintains that the presidency wished to "appease" the Sunni faction by including in the declaration approving the law the National Assembly's warning to review some of the articles. "Although we respect parliament", his statement says, "this law is contrary in many articles to what was agreed by political leaders".

The measure allows Baathists from the lower and intermediate levels (about 38,000 people) to return to their work in the public sector, and it restores pensions for all the Baathists, but their higher level members are still banned.  A period of three months is established within which the former members of the party of the raìs can be legally prosecuted; if they are found to be not guilty they can make a request to be reinstated, and from that moment they will be immune from proceedings on the actions of the Saddam era.

The Justice and Accountability Law is the first of 18 proposals that are part of a legislative plan desired by the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to promote reconciliation among Sunnis, Shiites, and the Kurdish minority.

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