Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that he is confident Iranians will vote in this week's elections for a parliament that will resist the influence of foreign powers -- including the United States.
In a message posted to his website on February 24 ahead of the February 26 elections, Khamenei said Iranians "will vote for a parliament that puts Iran's dignity and independence first, and stands up to foreign powers whose influence on Iran has been removed."
INFOGRAPHIC: How Iran Is Ruled (click image)
The vote is seen as a showdown between hard-liners and moderate reformists.
The moderates hope to boost their parliamentary presence in the wake of a nuclear deal with world powers and the lifting of international sanctions.
Iran's Guardians Council, a vetting body made up of conservative clerics and jurists, disqualified thousands of mostly moderate and reformist parliamentary candidates in January -- including four-fifths of the candidates for the body that will choose Iran's next supreme leader.
That decision sparked a dispute between hard-line conservatives and reformist factions.
But on February 6, the Guardians Council reversed its ban on 1,500 of those candidates.
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and IRNA