Sunday, May 15, 2005

Iranians Condemn Presidential Election

BBC News:
More than 500 politicians and intellectuals in Iran have announced that they will not take part in the presidential election next month. In a statement, they said that the 17 June poll cannot be free and fair because Iran's Guardian Council was depriving people of free choice.

The conservative Guardian Council has the powers of vetting the candidates.

A record 1,010 people have registered to run in Iran's presidential election next month, the interior ministry says.

Registration closed on Saturday and aspiring candidates will now wait while their applications are vetted.

'Chosen by state'

The statement was signed by some former members of parliament and also intellectuals who supported reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

It said that "the people only have the freedom to choose from among those candidates chosen by the state".

"People are being called to participate while many of the most important circles of power and the appointed people have complete control on all the avenues of executive power," the statement said.READ MORE

The Guardian Council has already said that 89 women - registered as candidates - will be disqualified.

It now has 10 days to complete the vetting procedure.

The Guardian Council caused outrage during last year's parliamentary election by disqualifying some 2,000 candidates and in effect disqualifying most reformers from standing.

But correspondents say the council may be more cautious this time, fearing a low turnout could damage its legitimacy. ...