BAGHDAD - More than 12,000 former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party are in the process of reintegration into public service a year after losing their jobs under a now abandoned policy of punishing loyalists of the ousted regime, a senior official said Thursday.
In a backtrack on its once hardline stance, the so-called National De-Baathification Committee - a body created and headed by erstwhile Pentagon favourite Ahmad Chalabi - reinstated the public servants.
"Our committee, which fired 30,000 people, has decided to reintegrate 12,000 who have appealed the decision," Mithal Allussi, director of the committee, said.
"They come from a range of sectors, for example the interior ministry, education or electricity," he said.
"Some decided to restart active work and others chose retirement."
The softer stance on former Baath party members followed Chalabi's fall from favour in a head-on collision with his US allies last month.
When US overseer Paul Bremer arrived in Iraq one year ago, he issued a decree expelling all senior Baathists from the administration and dissolving the armed forces.
The policy was the result of Chalabi's intense lobbying with his well-placed friends in Washington at the expense of Bremer's predecessor Jay Garner, who saw administering the war-torn country as the priority, not a witch-hunt.
Some 6,000 teachers were among the 30,000 civil servants fired by the committee under Chalabi.