AFP: Iran’s influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday urged the hardline electoral watchdog to reinstate moderate candidates for next month’s parliamentary election. TEHRAN (AFP) Iran’s influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday urged the hardline electoral watchdog to reinstate moderate candidates for next month’s parliamentary election.
“The Guardians Council… should provide grounds for a lively election, where all supporters of the revolution with different leanings can run,” Rafsanjani said in his Friday prayer sermon carried live on the state radio.
Iranian vetting officials banned more than 2,200 candidates — mainly moderates and reformists — from the March 14 poll, but the Guardians Council, which has the final say on who can stand, reinstated 10 percent of them.
The move came after prominent conservative and reformist figures complained bitterly about the scale of the disqualifications, which reformist former president Mohammad Khatami described as a “catastrophe”.
Rafsanjani also condemned an attack by a hardline website on Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who had criticised the mass disqualifications.
“There is a movement now provoked from outside the country which seeks to break the pillars of revolution,” he said.
Iranian authorities blocked the Nosazi (Restoration) website, which backs President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, following angry condemnations by top clerics of its vitriolic attack on Hassan Khomeini.
Tehran’s hardline prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said that five unnamed websites have been banned for “poisoning the electoral sphere,” and warned against smear campaigns ahead of the key vote.
“We will identify and block news sites which seek to spread rumours against candidates and defame people,” Mortazavi told the Fars news agency.
Reformists had been hoping to challenge conservative dominance of parliament in the March election but after the initial disqualifications said they could be competitive in only 10 percent of seats.
The Guardians Council has said it will announce the final list of candidates approved to stand in early March, leaving one week of official campaigning before the elections.
In order to pass the vetting process, candidates must meet a host of criteria, one of which is sufficient loyalty to Iran’s Islamic system and the system of clerical leadership enshrined by Khomeini.