Sunday, May 22, 2005

Iran watchdog qualifies six for presidential race

Christian Oliver, Reuters:
Iran's hardline legislative watchdog on Sunday cleared six out of 1,014 hopefuls to stand for president on June 17, including poll frontrunner Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and four other conservative loyalists.

But the banning of one prominent liberal prompted a threat from the biggest reformist party that it would tell its supporters to boycott the election. READ MORE

The Guardian Council's statement, issued through state media, contained no big surprises and gave the green light to powerful ex-president Rafsanjani, 70, former chief of police Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, 43, and former head of state broadcasting Ali Larijani, 48.

It also cleared the former commander-in-chief of the hardline Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaie, and Tehran's mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

All of these hail from factions of the conservative camp. The only reformist cleared was former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, a mid-ranking cleric.

The only other reformist to make an impression in opinion polls, former higher education minister Mostafa Moin, was banned from running.

"The disqualification of Moin is an illegal and ugly move," Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, Karroubi's campaign chief was quoted as saying by the left-wing labour news agency.

Moin had stood up for the rights of students, often the spearhead of the reformist movement who have borne the brunt of crackdowns by the police and religious paramilitaries.

Like all others banned, he has a right to appeal.
Dan Darling has already published his thoughts on this story. See Iranian elections: A stacked deck.