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April 19, 2005 3:00 AM

Ethnic, political ties seen as key to jobs in Iraqi government

Saddam Husseins rules for young and ambitious Iraqis were clear: If you want a future, you must join the Baath Party. Now, as the leaders of the new National Assembly parcel out Cabinet posts according to ethnic group and religious or political affiliation, students and recent college graduates worry that the government will become a collection of fiefdoms in which loyalties matter more than merit. I guess now with so many political parties, and the way the different ministries are divided according to sects, one doesnt know which party he should be a member in, said Haider Ali, 24. Alis worries are one reflection of the broader problems of making a democratic Iraq a unified nation and creating a national identity that supersedes ethnic and religious allegiances.

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