Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized the disqualification of hundreds of people from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections, saying Iranians "need diversity."
In televised remarks during a cabinet meeting on January 15, Rohani called for "all parties and groups" to be allowed to run for office, saying the country "cannot be governed by one political wing alone."
The powerful Guardians Council has barred nearly one third of the current members of the 290-seat parliament from running in the elections scheduled for February 21, while some 800 other would-be candidates were disqualified by the Interior Ministry, according to state media.
Most of those rejected were reformist and moderate candidates, according to the reformist daily Etemad.
Overall, more than 5,000 people were allowed to take part in the vote, meaning that around 17 candidates will compete for each parliamentary seat, Press TV reported.
"Do not tell the people that for every seat in parliament, there are 17, 170 or 1,700 candidates running in the election," Rohani said in his speech.
"Seventeen-hundred candidates from how many factions? Seventeen candidates from how many parties? From one party? This is not an election," he added.