Iraqi leaders say parliament will decide the fate of hundreds of candidates who have been banned from running in next month's election if the country's top court doesn't settle the controversy quickly.

The announcement Saturday was a last push on the legal panel that could rule on the potential political pitfall as early as Sunday.

At issue is about 450 candidates accused of being loyalists to Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. They were banned from running on the March 7 ballot by a Shiite-led vetting panel that is widely seen as targeting Sunnis.

An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the government wants the court to review evidence against each of the banned candidates before March 12.

That's when the campaign season officially begins.