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The BBC's Jim Muir
"The disqualifications have not been as radical as some feared"
 real 28k

Saturday, 15 January, 2000, 14:29 GMT
Iran bars election candidates

President Khatami Among those rejected are associates of President Khatami


By Jim Muir in Tehran

More than 750 candidates in Iran's crucial general elections next month have been disqualified by vetting committees.

Over half of the 758 disqualifications were decided by the Council of Guardians - a conservative-dominated body that has been accused by reformists of discounting their candidates for factional reasons. More than 6,000 candidates remain in the field.

Committees belonging to the Interior Ministry rejected nearly half of the disqualified candidates in a first scrutiny. The ministry is regarded as being under the influence of the reformists.

Many of those rejected, according to the ministry's election headquarters, fell by the wayside because they lacked the necessary qualifications or had failed to fulfil certain technical conditions.

But in later scrutiny by committees controlled by the Council of Guardians, some 400 others were disqualified on grounds that the reformists argue were very much more politically orientated.

Complaints

The reasons generally given were that they had failed to demonstrate sufficient commitment to Islam and the Islamic system, or that they were affiliated to banned political organisations.

Many of the disqualifications - and most of them are of reformist candidates - had already been made known, causing a chorus of complaints from the moderate circles.

However, there are still more than two weeks of appeals procedures to be gone through. The final list will only be drawn up shortly before the week-long election campaign begins next month.

Disqualifications down

The disqualifications have not been as radical as some had feared.

Although there are 1,500 more candidates this time than in the last general elections, there are only about half the number of disqualifications.

One factor in that may have been that the intelligence ministry, which last time ruled out around 12% of the hopefuls, has been much more restrained on this occasion.

The ministry is under new management following the resignation of the previous minister a year ago after it was revealed that senior officials had been involved in a chain of murders of intellectuals and writers.

However, the reformist President, Mohammed Khatami, has said that the intelligence services still need to be restructured and reformed.

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Khamenei attacks Iran's reformists
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