TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran’s conservative vetting body the Guardians Council has disqualified more than half of the reformist candidates for March parliamentary polls, the Reformists’ Coalition spokesman told AFP on Wednesday.
“In some provinces more than 70 percent of our candidates were rejected. We can say more than 50 percent of our candidates were disqualified throughout the country,” Abdollah Nasseri said.
Inspired by former president Mohammad Khatami, the coalition brings together 21 pro-reform groups, including the largest reformist party, Islamic Iran’s Participation Front (IIPF), and the Organisation of Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen.
“Practically all IIPF and Mujahedeen candidates were rejected,” Nasseri said of the two groups whose members served as key cabinet ministers and lawmakers during Khatami’s presidency from 1997 to 2005.
Interior ministry committees were tasked with screening 7,168 hopefuls for the March 14 polls by gathering information from the police, intelligence ministry, the judiciary and by making local inquiries.
The committees passed the results to the local surveillance commissions of the Guardians Council, a powerful electoral watchdog controlled by conservatives which has the final say on the choice of candidates.
Rejected candidates have until January 26 to appeal to the surveillance commissions. If unsuccessful, they can then appeal directly to the Guardians Council itself, which has 20 days to give a ruling.
Nasseri said there was a chance that the surveillance commissions would allow some reformist candidates to stand.
In 2004 the Guardians Council barred more than 2,000 mostly reformist candidates out of a total number of 8,172 candidates. The conservatives won a landslide victory in the legislative elections which saw a low turnout.