Iraqi officials said Thursday a prominent secular Sunni lawmaker and his party have been barred from participating in the upcoming parliamentary election because of ties to the previous regime.
Ali Faysal al-Lami, director of the Iraqi parliament's Accountability and Justice Committee, said the party leader, Salah al-Mutlak was disqualified for speaking out in support of members of Saddam Hussein's former ruling Baath Party.
Al-Mutlak dismissed the allegation against him and says he will appeal.
Analysts say the announcement is a blow to U.S. officials who hope the election will bring opposition factions into the political process and stabilize the Iraqi government.
At least 13 other parties were also banned for ties to the Baath regime.
Opposition leaders said the decision could lead to a strong reaction from Sunni voters.
Sunnis largely boycotted the last elections in 2005.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.