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Iranian Guardian Council Reinstates Some Banned Candidates - 2004-01-30


Iran's conservative Guardian Council has reinstated about a third of the 3,600 candidates it banned from running in parliamentary elections next month. Most of the banned candidates were reformers. The move may not satisfy Iran's reformists, who say the election will not be fair unless all qualified candidates are allowed to run.

In a statement read on Iran's state television Friday, the council decided to allow about 1,100 of the previously banned candidates back into the race.

The Guardian Council also refused to postpone the parliamentary election, which is scheduled for February 20. The council rejected appeals by the Minister of the Interior and Iran's provincial governors to delay the election, saying it will not bow to pressure or propaganda.

The 12-member Guardian Council, an appointed group of conservative clergymen and lawyers, sparked political turmoil in Iran last month when it barred nearly half of about 8,000 candidates from seeking office in the parliamentary election. Most of those banned were reformists, including 80 current members of parliament.

Reformists, who have held the majority of seats in Iran's parliament for the past several years, view the council's mass rejection of candidates as an attempt to regain control of parliament for the conservatives. The reformists have called for all the banned candidates to be reinstated.

On Friday, many reformists awaiting the ruling of the Guardian Council said they are poised to boycott the election. Dozens of top government officials have threatened to resign if the massive ban is not overturned.

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