Iran's reformists to protest against rejection of candidates
( dpa ) - Iran's reformists are to protest against the rejection of their candidates for the March parliamentary elections, a spokesman for the Reformists' Coalition told ISNA news agency Friday.
Abdollah Nasseri said several sessions were held after the majority of reformist candidates were rejected by the constitutional watchdog Guardian Council and it was decided that "senior members" would follow up the issue.
The "senior members" of the reformist coalition are two former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi.
The rejected candidates have the legal right to veto the decision by Saturday.
Almost 60 per cent of the reformist candidates - in some provinces even up to 90 per cent - were rejected due to lack of ideological qualification, reformists said.
That means that the candidates were critical of the Islamic system in Iran and favoured a secular course. They were therefore not acknowledged as opposition, but as dissidents.
The interior ministry said that more than 2,000 out of the total 7,000 candidates were rejected, including 400 out of 1,400 of those registered for 30 seats in Tehran which is considered the most important constituency.
"The widespread rejections have caused serious concern for the country's political future," Nasser said.
The spokesman declined to name the rejected candidates, but said that all details would be disclosed to the public in due time.
The ideological qualifications of all candidates have to be vetted and approved by six clerics and six lawyers on the Guardian Council.
As the opposition considers all 12 council members ultra- conservative and aligned with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it has been widely feared a significant number of reformist candidates would be disqualified as occurred in previous elections.
For the 2004 polls, the council disqualified more than 2,500 reformist candidates without providing any plausible reasons. According to reformists, the number for the 2008 elections has been even more.
Almost all candidates from the two main reformist parties - Islamic Iran's Participation Front (IIPF) and Organization of Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen - were reportedly rejected.
More than 7,000 candidates had registered nationwide for the March 14 elections. At stake are a total of 290 seats.
The main race was expected to be between the reformist-moderate coalition and the conservative camp close to Ahmadinejad.
In recent weeks however the conservative camp has also criticised the president's policies, indicating that even a conservative victory would not necessarily prepare the ground for Ahmadinejad's re- election.