Reformists to join the fray in Iran elections

February 16th, 2008 - 11:11 pm ICT by admin  

Tehran, Feb 16 (DPA) Iran’s reformists are to participate in next month’s parliamentary elections despite widespread disqualifications of their candidates, the spokesman for the reformist coalition said Saturday. “Only 20 to 25 percent of our candidates have been approved for the elections - but we will attend the elections even with this remaining minimum of facilities,” Abdollah Nasseri said during a press briefing in Tehran.

A special interior ministry committee had reportedly disqualified more than 2,000 candidates for the March 14 elections, including a large number of reformists.

The ultra-conservative Guardian Council - the main body in charge of monitoring the ideological qualification of candidates for parliamentary and presidential elections - has reportedly revised some 580 disqualifications.

Nasseri, however, said that the revision did not include high-ranking members of the reformist coalition.

The reformist coalition, led by former presidents Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, says there would still be no fair and equal atmosphere for a healthy competition against factions supporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

While Khatami has called the widespread disqualifications a “catastrophe,” Rafsanjani has called on the administration to admit political opinions differing from the government line to run in the elections.

Rafsanjani Friday also warned against military interference in the elections, which he said could endanger the main pillars of the Islamic republican system.

The commander of the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), General Mohammad-Ali Jafari, caused some controversy last week after not only calling on his forces to vote for the conservatives but also saying it was their “divine duty” to do so.

The IRGC is widely regarded as a fierce supporter of Ahmadinejad.

But even candidates of the conservative camp are not regarded by insiders to be fully on the president’s side, especially as top candidate Ali Larijani, Iran’s former chief nuclear negotiator, has openly admitted to grave differences with Ahmadinejad not only over nuclear issues but also over the president’s economic policies.

The country’s grave economic problems have led to astronomic inflation, and some of the conservatives who had earlier backed Ahmadinejad have been gradually distancing themselves from the president in order not to endanger their re-election.

There is still a possibility that the electoral race will not only be between the moderate-reformist and conservative camps but also include a separate pro-Ahmadinejad wing.

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