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Iran: Guardian Council considers 40 candidates - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, secretary of the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchdog, delivers a sermon at Friday prayers at Tehran University, in Tehran, Iran, on Friday, May 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, secretary of the Guardian Council, Iran’s constitutional watchdog, delivers a sermon at Friday prayers, at Tehran University, in Tehran, Iran, on Friday, May 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—In a move that has surprised observers of Iranian politics, a spokesman for the Islamic Republic’s Guardian Council announced on Sunday that it may approve dozens of candidates for the country’s upcoming presidential election.

Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said: “The Guardian Council does not work based on numbers, but based on criteria…. The Guardian Council is reviewing the candidacy of almost 40 presidential hopefuls seriously.”

The council, which vets all presidential and parliamentary candidates, has approved fewer than 10 candidates in each previous presidential elections.

This year, over 600 individuals registered for Iran’s 11th presidential election, which is scheduled for mid-June.

Kadkhodaei added: “We will announce the results to the Interior Ministry on May 21. The ministry will declare the final candidate list within two days.”

The approved candidates can begin their formal electoral campaign once the Interior Ministry has released the list, and campaigning must end 24 hours before polls open.

Meanwhile, evidence has emerged of attempts by the Iranian authorities to crack down on Iran’s media in the run up to the election.

A media source in Tehran, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that a number of journalists were called back to prison after being temporarily freed for home leave on medical and humanitarian grounds, while others have been called in by the authorities for questioning.

Among the journalists recalled to prison are Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Ahmad Zeid Abadi, Bahman Ahmadi Amoui, and Shiva Nazarahari, all of whom were told to present themselves to the authorities before May 21.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Ronaghi Maleki said: “Per [the] orders of the judicial authorities and the honorable Tehran prosecutor, I, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, am not allowed to be outside the confines of prison walls due to the upcoming presidential elections of the Islamic Republic. Therefore,—despite my low kidney function, my inflammatory prostate disease, bladder ailment, and so on—I am ordered to immediately present myself at Evin prison.”

Human rights activists have expressed concern about the detention and questioning of journalists and activists, whose arrests have not been reported in state-run media outlets.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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