Reuters: An Iranian hardline vetting body has reinstated another 250 candidates who had been barred from running for the country’s March parliament election, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – An Iranian hardline vetting body has reinstated another 250 candidates who had been barred from running for the country’s March parliament election, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The vote for 290-seat parliament, dominated by hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters, is a test for the popularity of the president who came to power in 2005 vowing to share out oil wealth more fairly but failed to curb hiking inflation.
Moderate politicians and some of Ahmadinejad’s backers have complained over the disqualification of more than 2,000 of the 7,200 registered hopefuls, initially barred by government committees.
The spokesman for the Guardian Council said those reinstated were from different political parties, including the reformist camp.
“The Guardian Council has reinstated another 251 initially rejected candidates for the upcoming vote,” the spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodai told IRNA, increasing the number to a total of 831.
Potential candidates face a vetting process in Iran. Those who pass the filter of government committees have to be approved by the conservative-run Guardian Council, which has stopped hundreds of reformists running in past votes.
The council has the power to reinstate those banned during initial screening or bar more hopefuls based on criteria such as loyalty to the Islamic system.
Iran’s main reformist coalition earlier this week criticised the council for failing to ensure a competitive race, insisting it still planned to contest the vote.
It was not clear how many moderate candidates were among those reinstated and the spokesman for the Coalition of Reformist Groups was not immediately available for comment.
The final list of eligible candidates will be announced in the first week of March.
Parliament does not draw up policy on major issues such as Iran’s nuclear row with the West, but analysts say the result will indicate Ahmadinejad’s chance of re-election in 2009.