Monday, May 23, 2005

Anti-Government Faction of Reformist Movement Rages Against Election Slate

Reformists blocked from Iran vote: "Reformists blocked from Iran vote

The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2005
TEHRAN Iran's hard-line constitutional body, the Guardian Council, has rejected all reformists who registered to run in presidential elections next month, approving only six out of the 1,010 hopefuls, state-run television reported.

The announcement Sunday prompted a crisis meeting by reformists, who immediately threatened to boycott the election.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," said Rajabali Mazrouei, a top member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which is Iran's largest reformist party. "Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election."

On Monday, reformists condemned what they said was the illegal disqualification of Mostafa Moin, a former minister of culture and the sole candidate of the Participation Front. One leading politician accused hard-liners of carrying out a coup d'état and called for the June 17 election to be boycotted.

"This move is unfair, unreasonable, and illegal," Moin said.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, another member of the Participation Front, said: "The government that will be set up will be a government of a coup d'état. There will not be a president of a republic, there will be an appointed president."

With Moin and other reformists eliminated, the choice of candidates is limited to a powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - seen as a more pragmatic conservative - four hard-liners and one centrist cleric.

The presidential election comes as Iran is facing international pressure over its controversial nuclear program. Iran is trying to convince the United States and Europe that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Moin was the only major candidate who supported continued suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran to avoid a nuclear crisis and to reach a political compromise with Europe.

Iran has vowed to resume some uranium reprocessing activities soon, saying it will unilaterally begin such activities if talks with the European Union fail later this week.

The Guardian Council is an unelected, 12-member body that has the power to vet all laws and candidates for public office. It provoked similar outrage last year when it disqualified more than 2,000 reformists from legislative elections, leading to a low turnout. Reformists denounced that vote as a "historical fiasco."

The council's announcement on Sunday, however, appeared to be the final decision, and effectively leaves reformists seeking democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment without a candidate.

Ruling clerics are trying to consolidate their power after the departure of the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who is barred from seeking another term. Though Khatami came to power in a popular landslide in 1997, hard-line clerics led by Iraq's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, succeeded in stifling his program for political and social reform.

Of the approved candidates for the June 17 presidential race, Rafsanjani, moves frequently between the hard-line and more moderate camps and was seen as a front-runner.

With the reformist movement severely weakened, Rafsanjani is still seen as the most credible force to stop the hard-liners, although the savvy politician has changed his stripes in the past.

The other approved candidates are a former police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; a former radio and television chief, Ali Larijani; the mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a former speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi; and a former head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei.

The Guardian Council said in a statement that its announcement did not mean the rejected registrants could not get other government posts.

The Council is controlled by hard-liners loyal to Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters. The council barred women from running for the office.

Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst, suggested hard-liners were hoping to avoid a candidate, like Moin, who has the support of the youth of the nation.

"For hard-liners, Khatami's victory was equal to allowing the predominantly young nation criticizing the ruling establishment. Allowing Moin to run may repeat that historical event. They don't to take such a risk again," he said.

Leylaz said the disqualification of reformers undermines the legitimacy of the elections.

"The disqualification damages the credibility of the ruling system, discourages the public from voting," Leylaz said. "Apparently, hard-liners prefer discrediting the country rather than giving up power despite unpopularity."

TEHRAN Iran's hard-line constitutional body, the Guardian Council, has rejected all reformists who registered to run in presidential elections next month, approving only six out of the 1,010 hopefuls, state-run television reported.

The announcement Sunday prompted a crisis meeting by reformists, who immediately threatened to boycott the election.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," said Rajabali Mazrouei, a top member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which is Iran's largest reformist party. "Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election."

On Monday, reformists condemned what they said was the illegal disqualification of Mostafa Moin, a former minister of culture and the sole candidate of the Participation Front. One leading politician accused hard-liners of carrying out a coup d'état and called for the June 17 election to be boycotted.

"This move is unfair, unreasonable, and illegal," Moin said.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, another member of the Participation Front, said: "The government that will be set up will be a government of a coup d'état. There will not be a president of a republic, there will be an appointed president."

With Moin and other reformists eliminated, the choice of candidates is limited to a powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - seen as a more pragmatic conservative - four hard-liners and one centrist cleric.

The presidential election comes as Iran is facing international pressure over its controversial nuclear program. Iran is trying to convince the United States and Europe that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Moin was the only major candidate who supported continued suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran to avoid a nuclear crisis and to reach a political compromise with Europe.

Iran has vowed to resume some uranium reprocessing activities soon, saying it will unilaterally begin such activities if talks with the European Union fail later this week.

The Guardian Council is an unelected, 12-member body that has the power to vet all laws and candidates for public office. It provoked similar outrage last year when it disqualified more than 2,000 reformists from legislative elections, leading to a low turnout. Reformists denounced that vote as a "historical fiasco."

The council's announcement on Sunday, however, appeared to be the final decision, and effectively leaves reformists seeking democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment without a candidate.

Ruling clerics are trying to consolidate their power after the departure of the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who is barred from seeking another term. Though Khatami came to power in a popular landslide in 1997, hard-line clerics led by Iraq's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, succeeded in stifling his program for political and social reform.

Of the approved candidates for the June 17 presidential race, Rafsanjani, moves frequently between the hard-line and more moderate camps and was seen as a front-runner.

With the reformist movement severely weakened, Rafsanjani is still seen as the most credible force to stop the hard-liners, although the savvy politician has changed his stripes in the past.

The other approved candidates are a former police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; a former radio and television chief, Ali Larijani; the mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a former speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi; and a former head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei.

The Guardian Council said in a statement that its announcement did not mean the rejected registrants could not get other government posts.

The Council is controlled by hard-liners loyal to Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters. The council barred women from running for the office.

Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst, suggested hard-liners were hoping to avoid a candidate, like Moin, who has the support of the youth of the nation.

"For hard-liners, Khatami's victory was equal to allowing the predominantly young nation criticizing the ruling establishment. Allowing Moin to run may repeat that historical event. They don't to take such a risk again," he said.

Leylaz said the disqualification of reformers undermines the legitimacy of the elections.

"The disqualification damages the credibility of the ruling system, discourages the public from voting," Leylaz said. "Apparently, hard-liners prefer discrediting the country rather than giving up power despite unpopularity."

TEHRAN Iran's hard-line constitutional body, the Guardian Council, has rejected all reformists who registered to run in presidential elections next month, approving only six out of the 1,010 hopefuls, state-run television reported.

The announcement Sunday prompted a crisis meeting by reformists, who immediately threatened to boycott the election.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," said Rajabali Mazrouei, a top member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which is Iran's largest reformist party. "Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election."

On Monday, reformists condemned what they said was the illegal disqualification of Mostafa Moin, a former minister of culture and the sole candidate of the Participation Front. One leading politician accused hard-liners of carrying out a coup d'état and called for the June 17 election to be boycotted.

"This move is unfair, unreasonable, and illegal," Moin said.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, another member of the Participation Front, said: "The government that will be set up will be a government of a coup d'état. There will not be a president of a republic, there will be an appointed president."

With Moin and other reformists eliminated, the choice of candidates is limited to a powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - seen as a more pragmatic conservative - four hard-liners and one centrist cleric.

The presidential election comes as Iran is facing international pressure over its controversial nuclear program. Iran is trying to convince the United States and Europe that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Moin was the only major candidate who supported continued suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran to avoid a nuclear crisis and to reach a political compromise with Europe.

Iran has vowed to resume some uranium reprocessing activities soon, saying it will unilaterally begin such activities if talks with the European Union fail later this week.

The Guardian Council is an unelected, 12-member body that has the power to vet all laws and candidates for public office. It provoked similar outrage last year when it disqualified more than 2,000 reformists from legislative elections, leading to a low turnout. Reformists denounced that vote as a "historical fiasco."

The council's announcement on Sunday, however, appeared to be the final decision, and effectively leaves reformists seeking democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment without a candidate.

Ruling clerics are trying to consolidate their power after the departure of the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who is barred from seeking another term. Though Khatami came to power in a popular landslide in 1997, hard-line clerics led by Iraq's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, succeeded in stifling his program for political and social reform.

Of the approved candidates for the June 17 presidential race, Rafsanjani, moves frequently between the hard-line and more moderate camps and was seen as a front-runner.

With the reformist movement severely weakened, Rafsanjani is still seen as the most credible force to stop the hard-liners, although the savvy politician has changed his stripes in the past.

The other approved candidates are a former police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; a former radio and television chief, Ali Larijani; the mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a former speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi; and a former head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei.

The Guardian Council said in a statement that its announcement did not mean the rejected registrants could not get other government posts.

The Council is controlled by hard-liners loyal to Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters. The council barred women from running for the office.

Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst, suggested hard-liners were hoping to avoid a candidate, like Moin, who has the support of the youth of the nation.

"For hard-liners, Khatami's victory was equal to allowing the predominantly young nation criticizing the ruling establishment. Allowing Moin to run may repeat that historical event. They don't to take such a risk again," he said.

Leylaz said the disqualification of reformers undermines the legitimacy of the elections.

"The disqualification damages the credibility of the ruling system, discourages the public from voting," Leylaz said. "Apparently, hard-liners prefer discrediting the country rather than giving up power despite unpopularity."

TEHRAN Iran's hard-line constitutional body, the Guardian Council, has rejected all reformists who registered to run in presidential elections next month, approving only six out of the 1,010 hopefuls, state-run television reported.

The announcement Sunday prompted a crisis meeting by reformists, who immediately threatened to boycott the election.

"We are warning the Guardian Council that we will not participate in the election if it doesn't reverse its decision," said Rajabali Mazrouei, a top member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, which is Iran's largest reformist party. "Barring reform candidates means there will be no free or fair election."

On Monday, reformists condemned what they said was the illegal disqualification of Mostafa Moin, a former minister of culture and the sole candidate of the Participation Front. One leading politician accused hard-liners of carrying out a coup d'état and called for the June 17 election to be boycotted.

"This move is unfair, unreasonable, and illegal," Moin said.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, another member of the Participation Front, said: "The government that will be set up will be a government of a coup d'état. There will not be a president of a republic, there will be an appointed president."

With Moin and other reformists eliminated, the choice of candidates is limited to a powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - seen as a more pragmatic conservative - four hard-liners and one centrist cleric.

The presidential election comes as Iran is facing international pressure over its controversial nuclear program. Iran is trying to convince the United States and Europe that it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Moin was the only major candidate who supported continued suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities by Iran to avoid a nuclear crisis and to reach a political compromise with Europe.

Iran has vowed to resume some uranium reprocessing activities soon, saying it will unilaterally begin such activities if talks with the European Union fail later this week.

The Guardian Council is an unelected, 12-member body that has the power to vet all laws and candidates for public office. It provoked similar outrage last year when it disqualified more than 2,000 reformists from legislative elections, leading to a low turnout. Reformists denounced that vote as a "historical fiasco."

The council's announcement on Sunday, however, appeared to be the final decision, and effectively leaves reformists seeking democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment without a candidate.

Ruling clerics are trying to consolidate their power after the departure of the reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who is barred from seeking another term. Though Khatami came to power in a popular landslide in 1997, hard-line clerics led by Iraq's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, succeeded in stifling his program for political and social reform.

Of the approved candidates for the June 17 presidential race, Rafsanjani, moves frequently between the hard-line and more moderate camps and was seen as a front-runner.

With the reformist movement severely weakened, Rafsanjani is still seen as the most credible force to stop the hard-liners, although the savvy politician has changed his stripes in the past.

The other approved candidates are a former police chief, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; a former radio and television chief, Ali Larijani; the mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a former speaker of Parliament, Mehdi Karroubi; and a former head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mohsen Rezaei.

The Guardian Council said in a statement that its announcement did not mean the rejected registrants could not get other government posts.

The Council is controlled by hard-liners loyal to Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters. The council barred women from running for the office.

Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst, suggested hard-liners were hoping to avoid a candidate, like Moin, who has the support of the youth of the nation.

"For hard-liners, Khatami's victory was equal to allowing the predominantly young nation criticizing the ruling establishment. Allowing Moin to run may repeat that historical event. They don't to take such a risk again," he said.

Leylaz said the disqualification of reformers undermines the legitimacy of the elections.

"The disqualification damages the credibility of the ruling system, discourages the public from voting," Leylaz said. "Apparently, hard-liners prefer discrediting the country rather than giving up power despite unpopularity.""