First Published: 2013-04-07

 

Iraq cabinet makes concessions on de-Baathification law

 

Cabinet unveils sweeping reforms to law barring members of Baath party from public life as part of moves to placate angry rallies by Sunnis.

 

Middle East Online

By Ammar Karim and Salam Faraj – BAGHDAD

Will Maliki challenge Sunnis’ demands?

Iraq's cabinet unveiled sweeping reforms to a law barring members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party from public life on Sunday as part of moves to placate angry rallies by the country's Sunnis.

The amendment to the De-Baathification law still needs to be approved by parliament, where it is expected to face stiff opposition, but it is among a raft of concessions to demonstrators who have alleged that the Shiite-led authorities unfairly target the Sunni community.

The protests since December lie at the heart of a political dispute that has pitted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is Shiite, against several of his erstwhile national unity government partners, in particular those from Sunni and Kurdish parties.

Ministers on Sunday approved a draft amendment that would allow Baath party branch chiefs, or firqa-level members, to rejoin the civil service, and would provide for pension payments for many members of the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary organisation loyal to the now-ousted dictator.

It would also put a time limit on the law, ensuring that only names blacklisted by the end of 2013 would be restricted from public life.

In all, the draft law would allow thousands of people to either enter the civil service or receive pensions.

Cabinet also approved amendments to laws on the use of secret informants and the seizure of property, both of which are major frustrations to the Sunni Arab community.

"Cabinet today approved an important amendment to the law of Justice and Accountability," Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak said in a statement summarising the reforms, referring to the formal name for Iraq's De-Baathification law.

"This law has excluded many talented people and prevented the country from (benefiting from) their services."

Critics have said the existing rules are too broad-reaching, disproportionately target Sunni Arabs, who were largely in power during Saddam's rule, and could theoretically be applied in perpetuity.

In particular, Sunni Arab protesters have railed against the law during months of protests alleging that anti-terror legislation is used to target their minority.

"This is a step towards moving to a new phase, away from phobia of the Baath party," said Ihsan al-Shammari, a politics professor at Baghdad University. "I think the government made a good move here."

But, Shammari said, the proposal was likely to face opposition in the Shiite-dominated south of Iraq that, along with the northern Kurdish region, faced the brunt of Saddam's wrath.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli

Israel approves plans for 1,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem