Lifestyle & Belief

New law for Iraq's former Baath members

Back in May of 2003, the US outlawed Ba'ath party members from holding office. The argument then was that high ranking members of Saddam's party had to go or they would make the government illegitimate in the eyes of Iraqis. This analyst says the law went too far: it kicked out of office a lot of competent people, it also sent a bad perception against Sunnis. He says for US policy has focused on bringing Sunnis into the political process for the last 18 months and it's been pressuring the Iraqi government for a new law. He says the old law was seen as heavily politicized. Much of the new law is devoted to setting up an impartial committee for correcting the way the old de-Ba'athification law, an almost version of a truth and reconciliation commission. That committte could improve the legitimacy. The new law allows Baath party members to collect pensions which could them a stake in the Iraqi government. But this Middle East expert says the new law also calls for the dismissal of a large amount of government officials, including people who have been working in the government the last five years. He says the current reform law has the heavy stamp of the Shiites in the government and have shown little willingness to be generous towards Sunnis. There's a lot of confusion about what this law will mean, but it all depends on how it gets implemented. Iraq's Sunni Vice President has criticized the law. The expert from earlier says there's an opportunity here for reconciliation.

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