576 Iranian Candidates Disqualified
TEHRAN, Iran, February. 8, 2000 (AP) – A hard-line council charged with screening candidates for the Feb. 18 legislative elections said Tuesday that it has disqualified 576 applicants, Iranian radio reported.
The affiliations of the disqualified candidates were not immediately known. Iranian moderates have expressed fears that the Guardian Council would eliminate those who do not fully endorse the policies of hard-liners among the ruling clergy.
The council has approved 6,083 applications, the radio reported, quoting the Guardian Council. It said 197 candidates withdrew their nominations. "Despite direct and indirect pressures to this council, it tried its best to implement its legal duties to help peace and tranquility in the society," the council was quoted as saying.
The elections are becoming a battle between reformists allied with President Mohammad Khatami and hard-line clerics who have lost some ground since Khatami took office in 1997.
The outcome of the elections will determine the future course of reforms launched by Khatami's administration.