your connection to The Boston Globe

Some Iran reformists back in vote

TEHRAN -- Hard-line authorities said yesterday they were reinstating 200 candidates barred from running in next month's legislative elections and will reconsider the cases of thousands more after fierce opposition from reformists who threatened to boycott the vote.

But the announcement did little to allay the anger of reformists, who accuse conservatives of disqualifying liberal candidates in order to take control of parliament in the February vote.

Proreform lawmakers vowed to continue their daily sit-ins in the lobby of Parliament.

"That they are reversing disqualifications is a positive step, but definitely not sufficient," said Rajabali Mazrouei, one of more than 80 reformist lawmakers disqualified from running.

"We don't think that a major breakthrough is developing. Either they have to reverse all politically motivated disqualifications or expect a boycott of the elections."

Habibollah Asgaroladi, leader of the hard-line Islamic Coalition Society, warned protesting lawmakers that the sit-in must end, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

"If the sit-in continues, it may carry unpleasant consequences for those organizing it," he was quoted as saying.

Reza Yousefian, another disqualified reformist lawmaker, said the threat showed the protest was working.

"The threat means the sit-in has uncovered plans by hard-liners to hold sham elections where there are no rivals to compete," he said. "It means we are succeeding."

The reinstatements were announced by the Guardian Council, an unelected body controlled by hard-liners. Supervisory bodies affiliated with the council triggered a political crisis when they disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people who applied as candidates in the Feb. 20 elections.

"So far, we have approved some 200 people who had been disqualified. This trend will continue," council member Abbas Kadkhodaei said yesterday.

Kadkhodaei said in a statement posted on the council's Web site that it had expedited a reexaminination of the disqualifications based on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's order. The council didn't provide the names of the reinstated candidates.

State media controlled by hard-liners say those disqualified failed to meet the legal criteria for candidacy, but reformists maintain the move was intended to skew the elections in favor of conservatives. They said yesterday that the disqualifications guarantee hard-liners at least 180 of the 290 seats in parliament.

On Saturday, Deputy Interior Minister Morteza Moballegh, a reformist who is Iran's chief of elections, warned he would not allow the elections to proceed unless hard-liners retracted the disqualifications. The reformist lawmakers holding sit-ins also began dawn-to-dusk fasts.

Most of the protesting lawmakers maintain they were disqualified because of their criticism of the unelected hard-liners in open parliament sessions.

Khamenei intervened, ordering the Guardian Council to reconsider the disqualifications. At the same time, however, he told the council not to give in to "bullying tactics" by some lawmakers.

Khamenei chooses the council's 12 members, and some reformist legislators have said the councilors would not have acted without the supreme leader's approval.

The disqualifications have met with widespread criticism.

President Mohammad Khatami condemned them, warning he could resign if they are not reversed. The European Union and the United States said the disqualifications threaten the credibility of the elections.

Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives