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Iraq unveils reforms to de-Baathification law following Sunni protests

Published: Updated:

The Iraqi government on Sunday unveiled sweeping reforms to a law banning members of late President Saddam Hussein’s Baath party from public life, following ongoing protests by the country’s Sunni minority.

However, the parliament, which is scheduled to convene Monday, has yet to approve the changes to the de-Baathification law.

“This law has excluded many talented people and prevented the country from [benefiting from] their services,” Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak said in a statement Sunday.

Under the new draft law, Baath party branch chiefs would be allowed to take part in civil services, and members of the Fedayeen Saddam – a guerilla group loyal to the late president – would receive pension payments.

Also, the draft states that only names blacklisted by the end of 2013 would be barred from public life.

Many believe that the de-Baathification law targets Sunnis, a sect to which Saddam Hussein belonged. Iraqi Sunnis have protested against the law since Dec. 2012.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has failed to take part in three consecutive parliament sessions, in which deputies were scheduled to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the country.

According to AFP, 12 election candidates of the forthcoming provincial council polls, scheduled to take place April 20, have been killed. The elections will be the first in the country since 2010, after the withdrawal of U.S. troops at the end of 2011.