Iraqi parliament discuss new de-Baathification draft law

The Iraqi parliament Sunday began discussing a draft bill easing curbs that barred former Saddam Hussein supporters from government jobs. A major Shi'ite faction denounced the bill as unconstitutional. The bill was one of the benchmarks which the US Congress laid down for measuring progress toward political reconciliation. The bill would allow more Sunni Arabs and other former Baath party members to regain jobs they lost when Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime collapsed in 2003. But followers of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who control 30 of the 275 seats in parliament, complained that the draft ignores the suffering of the victims of Saddam's regime. "This is unconstitutional and moreover, it cares about the future of Baathists while ignoring their victims who suffered a lot because of Baath party and the regime," said Nasser al-Rubaie, head of the Sadrist bloc in parliament.