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Iran: Over 70 percent of parliamentary hopefuls approved

TEHRAN, Feb. 23 (Mehr News Agency) -- The Guardian Council said on Saturday it will allow more than 4,500 candidates to run for parliament next month but that 2,200 candidates have been disqualified.

"Out of 7,597 candidates who registered... more than 4,500 have qualified" for the March 14 legislative poll, the body's spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei told reporters at his weekly press briefing.

"More than 70 percent of those who registered for the elections have qualified," he added.

"The Guardian Council disqualified 2,200 candidates," he said, adding that candidates banned from running for elections have three days (from February 23 to 25) to file petitions to the Guardian Council about their requalification.

Kadkhodaei said that 310 candidates had pulled out the race and 569 had not filed any objection to being disqualified.

Insisting that the Guardian Council is politically impartial in vetting candidates, the spokesperson said, "Election will be competitive in all constituencies."

Asked about the list of endorsed candidates released by the media, he said except the final list which will be sent to the Interior Ministry other reports in this regard are not valid.

On certain candidates who have started campaigning ahead of the schedule, Kadkhodaei said the Judiciary will act against the offenders.

Reformist groups will definitely contest the vote

In a statement released on Saturday evening, the reformist coalition declared that it is determined to contest the Majlis election on March 14.

Pointing to the importance of the upcoming elections, it stated that despite the fact that the coalition is short of candidates who are allowed to stand for the elections, it will participate in the election in the constituencies in which it has nominees.

"We call on the Iranian nation to elect the reformist candidates in order to improve the current situation," it said.

Some members of the reformist coalition had previously said that the coalition might pull out of race; however, they insisted that it would not mean boycotting the poll.

Reformers have candidates in all constituencies

15 of the 30 candidates on the United Fundamentalist Front are sitting MPs, the UFF executive secretary Shahabeddin Sadr said on Saturday.

Speaking at a UFF congress in Tehran, Sadr said that other candidates on the slate are competent too and have been chosen based on criteria set by the front.

Denying claims by certain political groups that election will not be competitive, he said reformers "are very active and have candidates in all constituencies and competition is completely serious."

At the same gathering, MP Ahmad Tavakkoli from the majority faction said vetting process has been conducted in a normal manner and the Guardian Council has fulfilled its duties faultlessly.

... Payvand News - 02/23/08 ... --

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