BAGHDAD (AP) – Iraq says 20,000 Saddam Hussein-era army officers will rejoin the military after being dismissed from their posts after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion for serving under the former dictator.
Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said Friday the reinstatement will begin immediately.
The move comes just over a week before national elections the U.S. hopes will help bring together Iraq’s rival religious factions.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other Shiite politicians have been criticized for unfairly targeting former members of Saddam’s ruling Baath Party.
Rival Sunni lawmaker Maysoun Damlouji says the reinstatement is a blatant ploy by al-Maliki to win more votes on March 7.