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Iran ex-presidents plan appeal over ban on thousands of parliamentary candidates

[JURIST] Two former Iranian presidents and an ex-parliamentary speaker said Sunday that they plan to appeal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [official website] to overturn a ban prohibiting moderates and reformists in Iran [JURIST news archive] from running in the March 2008 parliamentary election. Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami [official website, in Persian; BBC profile], a reformist, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [official website], a pragmatic conservative, and ex-speaker Mehdi Karroubi [Wikipedia profile] met late Saturday to discuss proposals to lift the ban. The Interior Ministry [official website, in Persian] announced last Wednesday that nearly one-third of the 7,240 candidates who applied to compete in the March 14 legislative elections would be barred from running for office. Among those banned were 190 of 200 candidates from the main reformist group in Iran, the Islamic Participation Front [Wikipedia backgrounder], 230 of approximately 300 candidates by the National Trust Party established by Karroubi, and all candidates affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization. Officials from the Interior Ministry stated that some of those disqualified were in involved in embezzlement or fraud, had sympathetic ties to terrorist organizations, or displayed a "tendency toward perverted cults."

Rejected candidates had until Sunday to file appeals with Khamenei, who has been unsympathetic to the reformists' cause and refused to reverse similar disqualifications before the 2004 parliamentary election [JURIST op-ed]. In that election, the Guardian Council, the upper parliamentary chamber composed of twelve members, banned 2,000 reformist candidates from entering the race, resulting in a landslide victory for conservatives. The 290-seat Iranian Parliament [official website, in English], known as the Majlis, has the power to propose and pass legislation and serves as a check on the office of the president. Political analysts have suggested that a reformist swell in the March election could challenge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's socially conservative domestic program. AFP has more.

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