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De-Baathification Policy 'Remains Intact,' Coalition Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2004 – The policy prohibiting hardcore Baathists from gaining government, military and teaching positions in the new Iraq is a good one and hasn't changed, the Coalition Provisional Authority's chief spokesman said in Baghdad today.

However, Dan Senor, noted to reporters, the de-Baathification policy issued last May and implemented by Iraqi officials in January is being tweaked to ensure it is being applied fairly.

"The de-Baathification policy remains intact," Senor said. "It was the right policy when it was issued and it's the right policy today."

Senor noted that the policy prohibits senior Baath Party officials who had close ties to the now-defunct Saddam Hussein regime from obtaining positions within the new Iraqi government. An extensive vetting process, he pointed out, is used to separate Iraqis who'd merely been party members from hardcore Baathists with "blood on their hands."

The policy doesn't disqualify all former Baath Party members from applying for jobs, Senor emphasized, noting that only senior-level functionaries are barred.

However, he said it was lately discovered that some Iraqis who'd once been Baathists - especially those in the education field - have been waiting too long to resolve their appeals for jobs or retirement pensions. As a result, he said, changes are being implemented to ensure the policy is being fairly and effectively carried out.

"The policy is quite clear," Senor pointed out. "There is an opportunity for appeal for some Baathists to at least reintegrate into society and avoid a path of poverty, and do so with a sense of dignity."

Regarding current military operations in Iraq, coalition military spokesman Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt reported that a Bulgarian patrol was involved today in a firefight with enemy militia in Karbala. One coalition troop was wounded in the fight, Kimmitt said, and later died.

U.S. and coalition forces are prepared to resume offensive operations against entrenched enemy forces in Fallujah, the general continued, noting that such action could occur within days if tenets of an April 9 cease-fire agreement aren't met.

Kimmitt pointed out the cease-fire agreement requires enemy forces and noncombatant citizens in Fallujah to turn in all outlawed weaponry, but little - other than old, worn-out weapons has been received thus far.

"We have no doubt in our minds that the people inside Fallujah understand what's at stake here," Kimmitt said. "They understand what they have to deliver."

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Combined Joint Task Force 7

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