Lawmaker: former Baathists can join Iraq government
A parliamentary committee has agreed on mechanisms to lift a ban on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party participating in government, an Iraqi lawmaker said Saturday, dpa reported.
The main beneficiary of the move is the Iraqiya List of former premier Iyad Allawi, which has Sunni Muslim backing and includes three former Baathists eyed for government posts.
Hadi al-Amri, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's mainly Shiite-backed National Alliance, said parliament would soon be informed about the new mechanisms.
The legislature on Thursday appointed Iraqiya List member Osama al-Nujaifi as speaker and reappointed Kurdish politician Jalal Talabani as the country's president.
The president then appointed al-Maliki to a second term. It was only the second time the body convened since elections March 7.
The session was marred when Allawi and his supporters walked out in protest at the ban, but the party apologised on Saturday, downplaying the action as a common democratic practice.
"It is a democratic right to do this. But the Iraqiya List did not withdraw from the session to protest the election of the president of Iraq," said Ahmed al-Janabi.
The Iraqiya List's Hudur Mullah brushed off rumours the party might not participate in a new administration, saying it would play an active role in a government of national partnership.
"It became clear after discussions that took place during the past two days that there was some kind of misunderstanding among the political blocs," he said.
"There is now a consensus on the implementation of all commitments, obligations and agreements" said Mullah.
One of Iraqiya List members affected by the ban is Saleh al- Mutlaq, believed to be the party's choice for the post of foreign minister.
Al-Maliki is said to be in talks with the various political blocs on forming a cabinet. In addition to the foreign ministry, the Iraqiya List is hoping to get the culture portfolio.