About 300 professors at universities across Iran have expressed their "growing concern" over the "mass disqualifications" of candidates in February 26 voting for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, which could choose the country's future supreme leader.
In an open letter to President Hassan Rohani, the academics suggested that holding the upcoming elections, which they say will be "unfair and non-competitive" because of the disqualifications, could hurt the Islamic republic and damage its global standing.
They called on Rohani to use his power as president to ensure that the elections will be free and fair -- but also suggested that, if nothing changes, it might be better to scrap the vote than to hold it.
"Under these conditions, not holding such an election will have priority over holding it," the professors said in the letter released by the opposition website Kalame on February 9.
The final list of candidates who are allowed to run in the vote has not been released yet. According to figures released by Iranian media, some 6,000 candidates have been approved by the Guardian Council, which is tasked with vetting all election candidates.
One politician from Iran's reformist camp has said that only 1 percent of their hopefuls, 30 out of 3,000, have been allowed to run in the vote for the 290-seat parliament.
Last month, Rohani criticized the disqualifications, suggesting the exclusion of so many candidates could make the vote pointless.He also said that he had asked one of his vice presidents to discuss the disqualifications with the Guardian Council.
Iranian media last week reported that the Guardian Council has allowed 1,400 candidates who had been previously disqualified to run.
Interior Ministry spokesman Ali Amiri told reporters on February 9 that "Reformists, moderates, and conservatives are among the newly approved."
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