Iraq Ends Ban on Saddam-Era Baath Officials
Will allow thousands of civil servants to reapply for jobs, pensions
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2008 9:50 AM CST
A young Palestinian stands next to a portrait of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during a rally in support of him and marking the first anniversary of his execution in the West Bank village of...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Iraqi parliament today cleared the way for former members of Saddam's Baath party to rejoin the government and military, the BBC reports. The move is seen as a way to smooth tensions between Shiites, who control the new government, and Sunnis, who ruled under Saddam and dominated the Baath party. Those with outstanding criminal charges will not be allowed to return.

The law, which received heavy US support, seeks to fill holes in government agencies left in the wake of the Saddam-era roundup. It allows for a three-month period during which the ex-members can be prosecuted for any abuses while in power; afterward, they will have immunity. Pensions will be provided for ex-Baathists who are not reinstated.