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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"The struggle over who is allowed to run"
 real 28k

Saturday, 8 January, 2000, 11:24 GMT
Khamenei attacks Iran's reformists

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Ayatollah Khamenei: Supported election vetting procedure


Reformist supporters of Iran's President Khatami have been attacked for criticising the body charged with vetting election candidates.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, said the law must be accepted by all election candidates.

The reformists have protested that they are likely to be blocked from standing in parliamentary elections due to take place next month because of their views.



The law is the basis for everything
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
In a letter to the president, 32 leading reformists appealed for transparent polls and warned against arbitrary rejection of candidates by the Council of Guardians.

President Khatami is due to meet the Council of Guardians on Wednesday to discuss the elections.

But in a speech to mark the end of Ramadan, Ayatollah Khamenei said: "Some people accuse the legal organisations. It is not right to accuse them.

"Legal organisations are charged with appropriate tasks and they follow the law. The law is the basis for everything.

He added that rulings by the Council of Guardians on the eligibility of candidates "must be accepted by everyone".

Tit-for-tat moves

A BBC correspondent in Tehran said the struggle over who should be allowed to run is forming a major part of the election battle.

The reformists' letter to President Khatami was written after reports that the Council of Guardians had issued instructions authorising local vetting committees to disqualify any candidate not deemed to have attended enough prayer meetings or loyalist rallies."


President Khatami President Khatami: Reformist agenda
Reformists saw the edict as retaliation. Last week they walked out of parliament, denying the conservative majority a forum for introducing a change in election law, which they believed would favour of the right wing.

The Council of Guardians has the final word on the eligibility of candidates, following a preliminary vetting by the reformist-led interior ministry, which has rejected 401 of the total 6,860 who registered.

The Council was due to finish its scrutiny on Friday, and the final list of eligible candidates is to be published before 9 February.

For the first time in these elections, it will have to justify its decision in writing to a rejected candidate if required

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See also:
17 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Khamenei targets reformers
11 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Sign-up time for Iran poll
12 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Khatami stirs student passions
02 Feb 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: The forces for change
08 Mar 99 |  Middle East
Reformists triumph in Tehran poll

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