"This is purely a means of trying to gain more votes."
Mayson al-Damalogi, a spokesman for a coalition of Sunni and secular candidates headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, after the Iraqi government approves the reinstatement of 20,000 army officers who served under Saddam Hussein.
Just over one week before the national elections, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki approves reinstating a slew of army officers from Hussein's era a surprising move given that the Prime Minister had focused his campaign in the coming parliamentary elections around bashing the former Baath government.
His opponents viewed the move skeptically and suggested that al-Maliki was trying to gain favor with the former Baathists. The move comes after an appeals court overturns a ban on hundreds of candidates for having ties to Saddam Husseinĺs Baath Party. The initial ban, supported by al-Maliki, had prompted threats of election boycotts by Sunnis and warnings that the credibility of the election itself was at stake.