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Iran: Khatami, Rafsanjani, Karrubi negotiate over banned candidates

TEHRAN, Jan. 27 (Mehr News Agency) -- Former Majlis speaker Mahdi Karrubi, former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani held a meeting on Saturday night to study the disqualification of a number of Majlis hopefuls including those in the reformist camp.

Vetting bodies have disqualified nearly a third of the would-be candidates from standing in the March parliamentary elections.

The meeting was held at the invitation of Karrubi and at the residence of Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"Many of political figures with various political leanings, have been long since calling for Mr. Khatami, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and I to meet in order to find legal solutions to certain problems," Mahdi Karrubi, the Secretary General of the National Trust Party, told the Mehr News Agency correspondent.

"After the candidates were informed about the results of the vetting practice by the administrative commissions and in light of the nationwide disqualifications, we got more determined to hold our first meeting," he explained.

Karrubi said Saturday's meeting resulted in a decision "to encourage all the parties to actively participate in the elections to defuse the enemies' conspiracy which is to discourage people from voting."

"Each of us will start consultations with all concerned bodies and officials... so that ultimately with opinions and guidelines of the Supreme Leader it becomes possible for... the moderate figures to run," Karrubi said.

He said they would also try to lobby support from Iran's powerful electoral oversight body, the Guardian Council, which has the final say over the fate of the candidates.

Rejected candidates had until January 26 to appeal to the surveillance commissions of the Guardians Council. If unsuccessful, they can then appeal directly to the Guardian Council itself.

The Guardian Council will unveil a final list of candidates on March 4 before the start of one week's campaigning.

43 million eligible to vote

About 43 million are eligible to vote this year, Guardian Council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaii told Mehr on Sunday.

However, he said that the Guardians Council and the National Organization of Civil Registration have not presented the same statistics.

He also said that ballot paper for this year vote, designed by the Interior Ministry, has been confirmed by the Guardian Council and is ready to be printed.

Ex-Vice President Aref won't pull out

Although Mohammad-Reza Aref, former first vice-president, is reluctant to run while many of his pro-reform friends have been banned, he would respect the decisions made by the reformist coalition, coalition spokesperson Abdollah Naseri told Mehr on Sunday.

As a prominent reformist figure Aref accepted to register for the vote at the request of the coalition and his decisions will be in line with the coalition policy, he explained.

However, Aref is not satisfied with the existing process of vetting, Naseri noted.

... Payvand News - 01/27/08 ... --

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