Iran rejects 60% of would-be parliamentarians

2016-01-18 20:21
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AFP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. (AFP)

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Tehran - Around 60% of would-be candidates for Iran's parliamentary vote in February, including many reformists, have been rejected by the authorities, official media reported on Monday.

"Out of more than 12 000 registered candidates, 4 700 - or about 40% - were approved," Siamak Rah-Peyk, a spokesperson for the Central Elections Supervising Committee was quoted as saying by state television.

The committee is dependent on the Guardian Council, a panel of conservative clerics and jurists, to vet registered candidates and oversee the elections.

Reformist parties have protested against the rejections.

"Out of over 3 000 reformist candidates across the country, only 30 have been approved - only 1%, ," Hossein Marashi, an official from the reformist camp, was quoted as saying in the Shaugh daily.

"In Tehran, only four reformist candidates were approved," he said.

The capital has 30 representatives in Iran's 290-member parliament.

"We are supposed to present a list of 30 candidates," Marashi said. "How are we supposed to do that with just four names?"

The Reformists' High Council for Elections on Monday called for the Guardian Council to revise its decision and asked President Hassan Rouhani to intervene.

"We are concerned that such a trend of extensive rejections of reformist and pro-government candidates might lead to people's reduced participation in the elections," it said in a statement, according to the official IRNA news agency.

"We expect the Guardian Council to ... revise the disqualifications and we ask the president - in charge of implementing the constitution - to interact with decision makers and act to fix the current problem."

Rouhani said on Sunday that he would "use his powers as president" to try to change the opinion of the Guardian Council.

Nuclear deal

The ISNA news agency on Monday quoted Elham Aminzadeh, the vice president for legal affairs, as saying Rouhani would "negotiate" with the Guardian Council "to defend the rights of the rejected [candidates] in case mistakes were made".

Ali Motahari, a conservative lawmaker known for his critical positions, was also rejected as a candidate, media reported.

Rouhani is hoping to capitalise on the recent implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers for his moderate allies to make gains in the February 26 elections.

That could lead to a more conciliatory majority in parliament to accelerate political and social reforms he promised before being elected in 2013.

The current parliament is dominated by conservatives.

Applicants can appeal their rejection and the council will publish the final list of vetted candidates on February 4.

The rejected candidates included some with criminal convictions and others who submitted incomplete documents, said Rah-Peyk.

The parliamentary polls coincide with the election of Iran's highest clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, tasked with monitoring and choosing a replacement for the supreme leader if he dies.

In 2012, about 62% of nearly 5 300 registered candidates for the parliamentary elections were approved.

But reformists did not actively participate in the polls at the time.

Read more on:    iran

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