Iran General NewsIran body reinstates more hopefuls for March vote

Iran body reinstates more hopefuls for March vote

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Reuters: An Iranian hard-line watchdog body has reinstated another 200 candidates to run in a March parliamentary election, state television reported on Wednesday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – An Iranian hard-line watchdog body has reinstated another 200 candidates to run in a March parliamentary election, state television reported on Wednesday.

The vote for the 290-seat parliament, dominated by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters, is a test for the popularity of the president who came to power in 2005 vowing to share out oil wealth more fairly but failed to curb inflation.

Over 2,000 registered candidates out of 7,200 were initially barred by government committees. Moderate politicians, including former president Mohammad Khatami and some of Ahmadinejad’s backers, have complained over the mass disqualifications.

However, the conservative-run Guardian Council, which has stopped hundreds of reformists running in past votes, has now reinstated more than 1,000 hopefuls to run for parliament.

Potential candidates in Iran face a vetting process. Those who pass the filter of government committees, have to be approved by the council.

The council has the authority to reinstate those who were initially rejected or bar more hopefuls based on criteria such as loyalty to the Islamic system.

It was not clear how many moderate candidates were among those reinstated, but reformists accuse the council of not reinstating leading moderate hopefuls.

The final list of eligible candidates will be announced in the first week of March.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, an architect of the Islamic revolution, criticized the clerical establishment for the mass disqualification, saying it was “undermining freedom and rights of people”.

“The clear and sad example of trampling of Iranians’ rights is the mass rejection of candidates based on political prejudices,” Montazeri was quoted as saying by the Etemad daily.

Montazeri was hailed as “the fruit of my life” by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, late founder of the revolution, who designated him as his successor. But Montazeri fell from grace in 1988 after criticizing Iran’s rulers.

The government and hard-line political groups say the council has reinstated enough candidates to ensure a competitive race.

(Writing by Hashem Kalantari and Parisa Hafezi, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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