[JURIST] Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani said Friday that 23 employees of the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior [JURIST news archive] who were arrested this week [JURIST report] for alleged attempts to rebuild Saddam Hussein's Baath party [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] have been released. On Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said that the arrested individuals were not planning a coup [AFP report] against the government. Interior Ministry spokesperson Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf said that the men will not face charges [Reuters report] and that they have been returned to their families.
The US-run Coalition Provisional Authority [official website] prioritized outlawing the Baath Party, and in 2003 Iraq established the De-Baathification Commission [official website] aimed at rooting out members of Hussein's party from positions of power in the Iraqi government. The Commission prompted the forced removal [JURIST report] of approximately 30,000 Baathists from public life. The Bush administration eventually urged the Iraqi government to shift the commission from outright prohibition to "accountability and reconciliation" in the interests of countering the growing insurgency in the country. De-Baathification reform legislation was praised [JURIST report] by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Earlier this year, Iraq adopted the controversial Accountability and Justice Law [JURIST report], which allows most former Baathists to be reinstated to public life.