Iraqi leaders reach agreement on national reconciliation program
Iraq's top Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders vowed Monday to boost national reconciliation by agreeing to resolve key disputed issues that have thrown the country in a political turmoil. The leaders agreed to ease restrictions on former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party to help them join government ministries, to hold provincial elections and help security forces in stopping the bloodshed, President Jalal Talabani's office said.
Embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, a Shiite, Talabani, a Kurd, Sunni Vice-President Tareq Al Hashemi, Shiite Vice-President Adel Abdel Mehdi, and Massud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous northern Kurdish region, made a rare television appearance after Talabani's office released the statement.
"After a series of meetings by political leaders in the circumstances that our country is passing through, they have decided to make serious efforts to find solutions to overcome the political and security crisis in Iraq," the statement said.
It said the five leaders agreed to accept the Reconciliation and Accountability Law "to guarantee justice and transparency to all."
The law, yet to be approved by the parliament, replaces the de-Baathification law, and aims to facilitate the former members of Saddam's Baath party in joining government and military services.
The statement also said that leaders had decided to encourage sharing of government jobs equally among all the three communities. "The leaders agreed to hold provincial elections, and to continue dialogue over other disputed issues such as constitutional reforms and the oil law," the statement said, according to AFP.
The leaders also agreed to stop the "deterioration of security, and to work with the multinational forces in fighting terrorists and militias," the statement added.
The White House Sunday hailed the pledges from the Iraqi leaders as "an important symbol" of their readiness to work on behalf of all Iraqis. "We congratulate Iraq's leaders on the important agreement reached, today, in Baghdad. Today's agreement is an important symbol of their commitment to work together for the benefit of all Iraqis," the White House said in a statement.