Sunday, November 25, 2007

Parliament Row Stalls Iraqi Ba'ath Bill

By Cernig

Damn those Iraqis are quick learners when it comes to the Republican Party's version of democracy. Vast corruption, politicisation of government offices, spin and flim-flamm rather than action - and dirty tricks in the House.

A bill that would ease curbs on former Baathists was presented to Iraq's parliament on Sunday, but a row quickly erupted and forced postponement of debate on a draft law seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation.

It was the first time parliament had taken up any major bills this year that Washington believes will help heal the deep divide between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs.

Objections to the bill from a key Shi'ite faction and arguments over whether it had been submitted properly prevented the draft law from being read out fully, participants at the closed-door session told Reuters.

The row underscores the discord over a law that would formally relax restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party joining the civil service and military.

Many Baath party members were Sunni Arabs who feel persecuted by successive Iraqi administrations since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that toppled Saddam.

"The presentation has been stopped and postponed," said independent Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman.

"We want national reconciliation, we want to forget the past ... But the law should have been presented properly so those objecting could not find a hole in the presentation."

Othman said the draft had not been given to parliament's legal committee before being read out, although the Shi'ite-led government has said all necessary requirements were met.

Ezzat Shahbandar, from a parliamentary committee dealing with the issue, said the law had been sent back to the legislature's legal body for changes. He said this meant the government might want to review any fresh amendments to a bill that some officials say has already been revised four times.

"This means it will take a long time," Shahbandar said.
It's only a matter of time before Maliki blames Sunnis for being the cause of the "do-nothing" parliament, I'm guessing.