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Human Rights Watch: No Free and Fair Elections in Iran

Posters of Iran's presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani fly in the wind in Tehran
The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch says un-elected religious leaders are keeping Iran from holding a free and fair presidential election.

The human rights group issued a report Sunday describing the elections to be held Friday as "pre-cooked."

It says Iran's Guardian Council has approved a very restricted list of candidates described as insiders from the ruling elite, while interpreting election laws to exclude all women and anyone critical of the government from running for president.

The council approved eight of the more than 1,000 candidates who registered for this year's election.

Some reformists in Iran have called for a boycott of the vote. But President Mohammad Khatami, who is barred from a third term, called for a big turnout while also urging voters to back reform.