[JURIST] Iraqi Shiite religious leader Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani [official website] Sunday rejected a proposed law [JURIST report] which would return former Baath party [BBC backgrounder] members to their previously held government positions, according to Ahmed Chalabi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], head of the Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification [official website]. The draft law, which was introduced by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] last month, would allow former members of Saddam Hussein's now-defunct Baath party to return to their government or military jobs or receive pensions if they are denied such jobs. Despite provisions in the proposal that would prevent reemployment of former Baathists who have been charged with, or are sought for, criminal activities, Shiite leaders oppose the draft law as being a "dangerous" undertaking to return former regime members to leadership positions in the government.
Supporters of the draft measure are looking for a way to reinstate [JURIST report] former Baath party members who say they joined due to professional reasons since Hussein only allowed university enrollment, career progression and specialized medical aide to those who were members of his party. Without approval by the Shiite religious leaders, the proposed law has little chance of being passed by the Iraqi National Assembly [official website] since Shiites currently hold 130 of the 275 parliamentary seats and often vote according to advice by their religious leaders. Some Kurds, who were also suppressed by Hussein's Baathist regime, oppose the draft law as well. AP has more.