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.
Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, agreed on the new draft law last week, which must go before parliament for ratification.
The bill proposes that only senior members of the now-outlawed Baath Party will be banned from public life. The rest will be entitled to reappointment.
Washington has pushed Maliki’s government to reach out to disaffected minority Sunni Arabs, who form the backbone of a four-year-old insurgency, by amending the law on de-Baathification under which thousands of party members, many of them Sunnis, were fired from government and military jobs.