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Iraq to reinstate 20,000 Saddam-era army officers

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.

Iraq's Defense Ministry says 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.

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