( dpa ) - Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is to become the conservatives top candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, ISNA news agency reported Sunday.
ISNA quoted the secretary of the conservative coalition, Shahabeddin Sadr, as saying that Larijani would be in the 30-man list for Tehran which is the most important constituency.
After grave differences with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over nuclear policies, Larijani resigned last October and has held no official position since then.
Elections are to be held on March 14 and at stake are 290 seats, including 30 in Tehran.
Also other candidates of the conservative faction, which was initially considered to be pro-Ahmadinejad, are not necessarily in line with the president and government.
"We cannot say that those in the list are all fundamentalists ? we will not allow that our circle to get narrowed," Sadr said without further elaborating.
The main pro-Ahmadinejad faction is called "Nice Smell of Service" but besides the reformist-moderate coalition, even the conservatives have gradually taken distance form the presidential camp, mainly in fear that they might be affected by wide-spread people's protests against the government's poor economic performance and astronomic inflation.
There have also reportedly been differences between the conservatives and the pro-Ahmadinejad faction over former secretary of the Iranian National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani.
The pro-Ahmadinejad group had warned the conservatives that Rowhani's candidacy would be the "red line" but the warning was ignored by the conservatives.
"Rowhani would have been definitely in our list but he himself decided not to run," Sadr said.
The secretary added that also several candidates of the conservative coalition were rejected by the constitutional watchdog Guardian Council.
The ideological qualifications of all candidates have to be vetted and approved by six clerics and six lawyers on the Guardian Council.
The rejections however mainly affected the reformist wing. 60 per cent of the 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 allegedly critical of the Islamic system in Iran and favoured a secular course. They were therefore not acknowledged as opposition, but as dissidents.
The secretary of the Reformists' Coalition, Abdol-Vahed Moussavi-Lari, told ISNA that the rejections were so harsh that there were no longer sufficient candidates for running for the 290 seats.
"We have at most 120 only candidates left," Moussavi-Lari said.
The cleric added the two former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani as well as former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi had met on Saturday and discussed the "unimaginable" score of rejections.
According to unconfirmed reports, the three senior clerics were to meet Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to discuss the widespread rejections. Khamenei is constitutionally the only one authorised to veto Guardian Council decisions.
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 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 is even higher.
Almost all candidates from the two main reformist parties - Islamic Iran's Participation Front (IIPF) and Organization of Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen - were reportedly rejected.
The interior ministry has 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 the 30 seats in Tehran.