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Six Men To Compete For Iranian Presidency

  • Bill Samii

http://gdb.rferl.org/66A0E167-0906-4341-B962-52DB48988AA3_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/66A0E167-0906-4341-B962-52DB48988AA3_mw800_mh600.jpg Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989-97, is considered a front-runner among those reportedly approved 23 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's Guardians Council, which vets candidates for elected office in the country, announced yesterday that it has approved six men from a list of more than 1,000 applicants to compete in the mid-June presidential election, Radio Farda and Iranian state television reported.

Just one of those approved is backed by reformists, suggesting the conservatives stand a good chance of maintaining their hold on the presidency after President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami completes his second and final term under the constitution.

The list of disqualified applicants includes a leading reformist, Islamic Iran Participation Party candidate Mustafa Moin, and several high-profile women.

Guardians Council spokesman Gholam-Hussein Elham said on 21 May that the vetting body's choices are not final until the deadline of 24 May, state radio reported.

The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for 17 June.

The successful applicants are: Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadinejad; Ali Ardeshir-Larijani, who is an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai; former police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; reformist former speaker of parliament Hojatoleslam Mehdi Karrubi; and Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani.

Some 1,010 aspirants submitted applications earlier this month to run as candidates. (For a rundown of prospective candidates ahead of the Guardians Council announcement, click here.)

An Interior Ministry official and a number of reformist political figures reacted angrily to the Guardians Council announcement about candidates, Radio Farda reported on 22 May.

Ali Shakurirad, who heads the election headquarters for Islamic Iran Participation Party candidate Moin, noted that his organization announced beforehand that if its candidate was not accepted it would boycott the election.

Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, who heads former speaker Karrubi's election headquarters, called the Guardians Council's action illegal.

An Interior Ministry official identified only as Habibzadeh said that announcing the names publicly in this way is against the rules. The proper protocol is to inform the Interior Ministry, he noted, which in turn has 48 hours to inform the candidates and would-be candidates.

Related stories:

"Will Violence Punctuate Presidential Election?"

"Will Conservatives Dominate Iranian Politics?" (in "RFE/RL Iran Report")

"Corruption Becomes An Issue In Iran's Presidential Campaign"
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