Two Iraq ministers risk sack over Saddam-era posts

Two Iraq ministers risk sack over Saddam-era posts

BAGHDAD: Two ministers approved by Iraq’s parliament may lose their jobs before the rest of cabinet is agreed, officials said Thursday, after a commission found they were members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
The Accountability and Justice Commission is responsible for the policy of “de-Baathification,” or ensuring no Saddam-era officials or senior members of his Baath party play a role in Iraq’s government.
Commission spokesman Fares Abdul Sattar said that the body had sent a letter to parliament over two nominees to the 22-minister government — a third of which has yet to be confirmed by parliament.
“Two names will be subject to procedures by the Accountability and Justice Commission,” Abdul Sattar said, without specifying who.
A parliamentary source said that the endangered officials were Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmad Al-Obeidi and Minister of Communications Naim Al-Rubaye, who were only approved by lawmakers last month.
If sacked, it would be the first time the policy of “de-Baathification” unseats a minister confirmed by parliament since the 2003 ouster of Saddam by a US-led invasion.
Rubaye was reportedly a member of the intelligence services and a mid-level Baath party official, said a security source, but it was unclear what role Obeidi had.
Both received parliament’s vote of confidence on October 25 along with 12 other ministers, including those in charge of finance, foreign affairs, and oil.
Due to deep divisions, the remaining eight portfolios, including the interior and defense ministers, have not been put to a vote.
Parliament has met twice since then, but a confirmation vote did not feature on either session’s agenda and it has not set a new date to approve the remaining ministers.
Government formation has dragged on since Adel Abdel Mahdi, 76, was appointed prime minister in early October.
He had launched a website to allow Iraqis to apply for a ministerial position online and more than 15,000 sent in bids, but most of the names that were approved on October 25 were well-known political figures.

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