Sunday, May 15, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran candidates set poll record

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran candidates set poll record: "Iran candidates set poll record

Former President Rafsanjani is the best-known candidate
A record 1,010 people have registered to run in Iran's presidential election next month, the interior ministry says.
Registration closed on Saturday and aspiring candidates will now wait while their applications are vetted by the hardline conservative Guardian Council.

The list of those registered includes 89 women, but the Guardian Council has already said they will not be eligible.

Among those tipped to make it through to stand on 17 June is former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Mr Rafsanjani, who was president twice from 1989 to 1997, is seen as a pragmatic conservative, open to better ties with the West but more socially conservative than the reformists, the BBC's Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison says.

Record numbers

The Mayor of Tehran, Mahmood Ahmadinejad, and the former national police chief, Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, are also in the running.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Tehran Mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad
Former police chief Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf
Former Revolutionary Guard head Mohsen Rezaei
Former TV and radio chief Ali Larijani
Mostafa Moin, Khatami ally
Former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi
Ebrahim Yazdi, dissident
Aazam Taleghani, female dissident
Several political dissidents have registered, as well as the non-political former national goalkeeper Nasser Hejazi.

The candidates range in age from a 16-year-old boy to an 86-year-old man, AP news agency says.

The number of candidates is up from the previous record of 814 in the 2001 elections.

The current President, Mohammad Khatami, is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term.

The Guardian Council now has 10 days to complete the vetting procedure.

It caused outrage during last year's parliamentary election by disqualifying some 2,000 candidates and in effect disqualifying most reformers from standing.

But correspondents say the council may be more cautious this time, fearing a low turnout could damage its legitimacy."