Fri. 08 Feb 2008
The Daily Telegraph
By David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
Iran’s regime was yesterday accused of trying to secure an “obedient parliament” after almost a third of the potential candidates in next month’s general election were banned from standing.
Anyone hoping to contest the parliamentary polls due on March 14 must first be screened by the powerful Guardian Council. This body, dominated by conservative clerics, can exclude anyone deemed to lack loyalty to the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
During the last election in 2004, the Guardian Council helped Iran’s hardline politicians by preventing all but a handful of the liberal reformers from contesting the poll. The reformers won the previous election outright in 2000.
The signs are that this scenario is being repeated. Of the 7,200 prospective candidates for next month’s election, some 2,200 have been disqualified so far. In Teheran, about 400 of the 1,400 hopefuls have been banned from standing. The final list will be disclosed on March 5.
Among those considered unworthy to stand for the Majlis, or parliament, was Ali Eshraghi, the 39-year-old grandson of the revered leader of the Revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
“I do not agree with activities of barring candidates, but neither do I protest it and I will not plead with them to change their decision,” Mr Eshraghi said.
“They sent a message asking me to write a single sentence appealing the decision. I said ‘if you think you are wrong, change your decision by yourselves’.”
By disqualifying such large numbers of his opponents, the Guardian Council may help President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become increasingly unpopular.
Iran bans thousands of election hopefuls
Fri. 08 Feb 2008