US unimpressed by enlargement of Iranian candidate list

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AFP: The United States on Tuesday shrugged off Iran’s move
to allow two reformists to run in the upcoming presidential election, saying the poll remained fundamentally undemocratic. The State Department said the decision by the hardline Guardians Council, under pressure by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raised the field in next month’s vote from six to eight but did little else. AFP

WASHINGTON – The United States on Tuesday shrugged off Iran’s move to allow two reformists to run in the upcoming presidential election, saying the poll remained fundamentally undemocratic.

The State Department said the decision by the hardline Guardians Council, under pressure by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, raised the field in next month’s vote from six to eight but did little else.

“It really doesn’t change our essential view that this is a process that has been shaped and distorted by the decisions of some unelected leaders,” said department spokesman Richard Boucher.

He said “the Iranian people, unfortunately, will not get the kind of choice that they deserve to choose their own government.”

The Guardians Council, a powerful political watchdog, announced Sunday it had disqualified all but six out of a record 1,014 hopefuls aspiring to succeed incumbent reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

But after Khamenei intervened, the council agreed to let two more men stand: Mostafa Moin, candidate of the main reformist party, and Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh, a vice-president under Khatami.

They will run against former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been promoting himself as a moderate, a moderate former parliament speaker and four hardliners.

On Monday, the United States said it was “deeply troubled” by the mass disqualification of candidates in Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also all but exhorted the Iranians to demand their freedom and rights. “The United States stands with the people of Iran,” she said.