Bill allows Saddam followers a return to politics

Iraq's prime minister and president will introduce a bill in parliament as early as Tuesday that allows former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to return to government jobs and join the military, two Iraqi officials said. The measure - long demanded by the US to appease Sunnis - provides for a three-month challenge period after which Saddam's ex-followers - including those who worked in the feared security apparatus and paramilitary forces - would be immune. The measure goes to parliament under the names of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd. Shi'ites and Kurds make up nearly 80 percent of Iraq's population and both were severely repressed by Saddam's largely Sunni regime. "We present the draft law of Accountability and Justice to parliament to build an Iraq that is accessible to all Iraqis determined to build a new, democratic Iraq that is far from sectarianism, racism, tyranny, discrimination, exclusion and disenfranchisement," al-Maliki and Talabani said in a joint statement released late Monday.