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Iraq Parliament Begins Discussing Baathists Bill


Iraq's Parliament Begins Discussing Bill on Former Baathists

Iraq's parliament began discussing a draft law Sunday that would ease job restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.

It is the first time this year that Iraq's parliament has debated a major bill that Washington hopes will promote reconciliation among Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds.

The proposed law would make it easier for former Baathists, many of them Sunnis, to apply for jobs in the Iraqi government.

As the bill was being presented to parliament, a key Shi'ite faction raised objections. Lawmakers loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said the draft law is unconstitutional and demanded it first be studied by the parliament's legal committee.

The Reuters news agency quotes Iraqi lawmakers as saying the objections halted the presentation of the bill and forced the session to be postponed.

In other developments, the U.S. military says Iraq's improved security situation will enable the withdrawal of five-thousand American soldiers by next month. It will be the first major reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq since the surge of U.S. forces began early this year.

In violence Sunday, a suicide bomber exploded his vehicle near the Health Ministry in central Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding at least 30. Also in the capital, a roadside bomb, apparently aimed at a police patrol, wounded two civilians.

The U.S. military says its forces detained 24 suspected al-Qaida terrorists in central and northern Iraq today.

ENDS

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