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Saturday, 29 January, 2000, 15:38 GMT
Iran election short-list cut by 670

Elections posters Promotional material for the reformist camp

By Jim Muir in Tehran

As Iran prepares for a crucial general election next month, it has been announced that a total of nearly 670 of the would-be candidates have been disqualified after the latest round in the selection process.

Reformist groups are hoping to win control of the new parliament from conservatives, who have dominated the outgoing Majlis.

The election process has so far been dominated by the business of deciding who precisely is allowed to stand.

Of more than 6,800 people who originally signed up, nearly 760 were disqualified in preliminary rounds of vetting by several different committees.

election poster - Iran A poster encouraging women to participate in the elections

After appeals by many of them, it has now been announced that 192 of those earlier eliminated have been reinstated in the light of representations made.

However the Council of Guardians, the largely conservative body which has the last word on the selection process, said that a further 99 of those who had survived the original scrutiny have now been disqualified.

So with this give and take, the overall number of disqualifications has been reduced by 93 to a total of just 669.

Appeals against disqualification

But even though there are less than three weeks to go until polling day, that's not the final story. Those who have been eliminated still have three days to lodge further appeals, which the Council of Guardians will then consider over the following week.

Only then - barely 10 days before polling - will the final list be announced.

It hasn't yet been officially made known who the list of confirmed and new casualties includes, but newspapers have said that many of those ruled out are from the more radical end of the reformist movement and from the banned but tolerated opposition.

Affiliation to such groups and demonstrating insufficient commitment to the Islamic Republic, were among the reasons cited by the Council of Guardians for the disqualifications.

Even with these eliminations, the reformist camp is still confident that enough of its adherents have survived to give it a majority in the new parliament.

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