Iraq passes bill banning the Baath party
The Iraqi parliament on Saturday passed a bill banning the Baath party of former dictator Saddam Hussein, 13 years after he was removed from power by a US-led invasion.
The law, which passed by a majority, also bans "entities that profess or promote racism, terrorism, sectarianism or sectarian cleansing".
It further bans political groups that promote ideas that contradict democracy and the peaceful transition of power, without naming any particular group.
"Banning the Baath party is a great success for the nation and the families of martyrs in Iraq because this party has committed the most vicious crimes," said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
"We want to confirm that there is no place for those who brutalised our population and we are on the path to defeating the terrorist gangs and those who assist them," added the Prime Minister.
The law introduces stiff prison sentences ranging from six years to life imprisonment against violators.
The defunct Baath Party came to power through a 1968 coup orchestrated by the then assistant secretary general of the party, Saddam Hussein.
The party then began a brutal crackdown on its political opponents and ruled Iraq with an iron fist for over three decades.
It was disbanded in 2003 following the American-led invasion of Iraq, however many high ranking party members are believed to have formed secretive groups that fought a guerrilla war against the coalition forces and the new Iraqi state.
Experts believe that officers from the disbanded Iraqi army and high-ranking Baathist officials now constitute the professional cadre of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.