IRAQ

APRIL 20 2007 19:08h

Iraq Sadr's Bloc Reappoints Two Sacked Lawmakers

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The anti- American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has reappointed two members as lawmakers for meeting U.S. officials.

The political bloc of anti- American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has reappointed two members as lawmakers after sacking them earlier this month for meeting U.S. officials, the movement said on Friday.

The political committee of Sadr's movement said the sacking of Salam al-Maliki and Qusay Abdul Wahab was "unprompted and unintentional", adding their "innocence from the charges against them has been established".

"The previous measure concerning their ejection from the parliamentary Sadrist bloc is to be cancelled," the political committee said in a statement.

Nassar al-Rubaie, head of the Sadrist bloc in parliament, confirmed the two had been reinstated as lawmakers for the movement.

Maliki, a former transport minister, had previously denied he had been fired and also said he had not met any U.S. officials.

Sadr's movement holds a quarter of the parliamentary seats in the ruling Shi'ite Alliance of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Sadr withdrew his six ministers from Maliki's government on Monday to protest the prime minister's refusal to set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq.

(Reuters)