[JURIST] Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile] said Saturday that he supports a proposed law that would allow most members of Saddam Hussein's defunct Baath Party [BBC backgrounder] to return to their old positions in government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki endorsed the Accountability and Justice Law [ICTJ backgrounder, PDF] after the Iraqi parliament passed [JURIST report] the bill last month. On Thursday, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi [personal website, in Arabic; EPIC profile, PDF] said that he opposes [JURIST report] the law because it would require that many Iraqis given jobs following the 2003 US-led invasion of the country be forced to vacate their positions for the former Baathists. Before the bill can become law, it must be ratified by the Iraqi Presidency Council, which consists of Talabani, al-Hashemi, and Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi [BBC profile]. Reuters has more.
Passage of the de-Baathification reform legislation was noted by the White House last year as one of 18 as-yet-unmet benchmarks [JURIST report] of Iraqi progress towards stability. Iraqi Shiite religious leader Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani has previously called the bill "dangerous" [JURIST report] and the bill's passage stalled [JURIST report] as recently as late November 2007.