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Iraq Invites Baathists To Join Political Process

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi official has praised Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's message encouraging former Baathists -- the ruling party of former leader Saddam Hussein -- to join the country’s political process.

Saad al-Muttalibi, adviser to the National Dialogue Ministry, told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq on March 12 that the gesture affirms the government’s 2006 policy committing the country to tolerance, unity, and reconciliation between political factions.

Muttalibi said the statement was not meant for people like Hussein's former deputy, Izzet al-Duri, who is in hiding and is suspected of organizing insurgents against the government.

The Iraqi government recently made an offer to former Baathist officers to return to the military in exchange for regaining their benefits, which previously had been canceled.