Iraq issues new law giving Baathists jobs back

A234234231.jpgBAGHDAD – Iraq’s presidency council said on Sunday a measure that would give thousands of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party their old jobs back had become law, finalizing a key piece of legislation sought by Washington.

But underlining divisions within the three-man council, the measure became law despite objections from Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab member.

Parliament passed the “Accountability and Justice Law” last month, winning praise from Washington for helping promote reconciliation between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunni Arabs who were dominant under Saddam.

A statement from the presidency council, which has to ratify all bills passed by parliament, said it would suggest amendments to the newly passed law. Parliament would then have to vote on those amendments.

Besides Hashemi, the council consists of President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd, and Shi’ite Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Hashemi said late last week he would not back the legislation because it would force many people given jobs after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion out of those posts.

The statement said the council had been debating the law, but that those discussions did not finish within the 10 days the constitution gives it to review such legislation.

That means the measure becomes law automatically unless the council specifically rejects it.

“Although we respect parliament, this law is contrary in many articles to what was agreed by political leaders,” the statement said, without citing the articles.

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