Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been forced to make new concessions to Sunni demonstrators and is finally losing his firm grip on the Accountability and Justice Law, also known as de-Baathification.
Iraqi legislators passed a 2008 law designed to dismantle the Baath Party’s entities in Iraq, bring to justice any members who committed acts of violence against Iraqis and deprive those members of public-sector jobs.
The Maliki government was accused of double standards in implementing of the law. Some alleged that Maliki exempted Baathists who showed allegiance to him.
Rafie Rifai, the Mufti of Iraq and a Sunni cleric, says: “Maliki is selective in dealing with the Accountability and Justice Law, because many employees at his office would be affected by this law. However, he is enforcing it on university professors and ordinary people.”
Maliki has denied these accusations on several occasions, and he has tried to distance himself from suspicions that he could abuse his power in applying the law. In a recent television interview, Maliki said, “The government has nothing to do with the work of independent bodies, which include the one in charge of overseeing the implementation of the law. It prosecutes perpetrators of crimes and does not target innocent Baathists.”
Maliki and the ruling Shiite coalition bowed to pressure from the Shiite religious authority in Najaf, which told a delegation representing Maliki that it intends to curb his ambitions and carefully examine “Sunni complaints.” Immediately afterwards, Maliki established a high-level committee, led by his prominent Shiite ally Hussain al-Shahristani, who made decisions that favored dozens of Iraqi Baathists.