President Mohammad Khatami pledged Sunday to tap legal channels as it emerged that a large number of hopefuls, including many incumbent MPs, had been barred from standing in February's parliamentary election, IRNA reported from Tehran.
Meanwhile, 70 deputies temporarily walked out of the parliament session earlier in the day and held a sit-in to protest against the disqualifications, with one key MP threatening to divulge the names of those who pull the strings in banning the aspirants.
"I do not agree with this way of disqualifications and I will use legal channels to deal with this issue, which I hope will bear fruit," Khatami told reporters after a cabinet session.
"This issue must be examined and if (it) turns out to be illegitimate, it must be confronted," he said.
"I think what has happened contradicts the view of the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," he said before adding, "We must always be worried about the public dissatisfaction and God willing, the Guardian Council will make amends."
Among the rejected are many incumbent MPs, including Mohammad Reza Khatami, deputy speaker and brother of President Khatami. He threatened to reveal the names of those behind the rejections if parliament efforts to rescind the disqualifications prove futile.
"We are witnessing the most wide scale rejection in the history of the Iranian parliament. The reason for the rejections as well as any thing behind the scene is crystal clear to us," he told reporters.
"The sit-in today is the beginning of a movement which will have more ramifications and if the legitimate demands of the MPs are not addressed, it will become more widespread and take up other dimensions," he said.
Mohammad Reza Khatami said they will start with protests to begin with and continue 'according to our programs' which he did not reveal. The official did not rule out an en bloc resignation.
President Khatami, however, appealed on all political groups to stay calm and move in the framework of the law and avoid doing anything which may lead to tensions.
"Majlis (parliament) shows sensitivity toward the country's fate and this is natural, but I advise (the MPs) to remain calm and God willing, we will manage to resolve the problem through peaceful means," he said.
"Any action which may create tensions must be avoided and instead ways which help the protests bear fruit must be explored," Khatami added.
He, however, denounced the supervisory electoral board's move in barring prominent figures from standing in the elections. "Rejection of famous figures makes no sense. If the reason for their disqualification has been proved, they (the board) must present evidence and reasons," Khatami said.
The head of parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, Mohsen Mirdamadi, said the supervisory board had barred the first and second parliament deputies, Mohammad Reza Khatami and Behzad Nabavi, on the grounds that they were disloyal to Islam and the Islamic Republic as well as the supreme leader.
"This is a civilian coup d'etat," he said, adding, "They have barred certain individuals in every electoral constituency in order to clear the way for their favorite candidates.
"By doing so, they have practically specified the make-up of the seventh parliament from now and this is not an election, but a selection," he added.
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