Thursday, April 05, 2007

Aide denies Sistani opposition to de-Baathification law

In 2003, following the invasion of Iraq, the first act of the Coalition Provisional Authority under L. Paul Bremer (pictured) had been 'de-Baathification', the elimination from government of members of Saddam's Baath political party, most of whom had joined for the increased pay and benefits which membership in the party offered. They had been the country's administrators, responsible for such things as water, electricity, trash collection, sewage disposal. With de-Baathification, the basics of everyday living began to crumble along with the previous government. The Iraqi army -- 300,000 strong -- had been disbanded as the second act of the CPA. Going home without work and without a future, members had only their tribal and religious loyalties to count on. Many attribute these two acts as the well-spring of the insurgency.

BAGHDAD, April 4 (Reuters) - A spokesman for Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric denied reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani had rejected a new draft law that would allow many former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to regain state jobs.

"What some news agencies said quoting who they described as an aide to Sayyed Sistani about his position on the de-Baathification Law was not true," Hamed al-Khafaf, who is based in Beirut, said in a statement.

Several foreign media reported this week that Sistani was against the draft law.

"We are surprised by attempts trying to get (the Shi'ite clerical establishment) involved in a case which is the speciality of constitutional organisations," Khafaf said, without saying what Sistani's position was on the law.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

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