TEHRAN: Iran’s election-vetting body has spelt out conditions for running in next month’s presidential poll, potentially barring several high-profile candidates, local media reported yesterday. The conservative-dominated Guardian Council complained earlier this week of the “unpleasant situation” that allowed would-be candidates lacking basic requirements to register to run in the election held every four years. Under the Islamic republic’s constitution, candidates for the presidency require vague qualifications such as being among “political and religious” figures.
The Guardian Council is tasked with interpreting the constitution, validating parliamentary legislation and monitoring elections. The council has specified that “all nominees must be between 40 and 70 years of age, hold at least a master’s degree or its equivalent, have work experience of at least four years in managerial posts… and have no criminal record”, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. It said top military commanders with the rank of major general or higher also qualified to run.
The terms in effect implement a 2016 directive from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the council to clarify and “determine” the requirements. According to the council, the amendment has been passed on to the interior ministry, which will receive nominations from May 11-15 before submitting them to the vetting body.
Iran will vote on June 18 for a successor to President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate. The updated requirements would potentially rule out some well-known names, such as Rouhani’s telecom minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, who is 39, or the elite Revolutionary Guards’ Saeed Mohammad, whose rank is below major general. Former candidate Mohammad Gharazi, a 79-year-old ex-minister, would also be ruled out, as well as senior reformist figure Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was jailed during Iran’s 2009 protests, because of a conviction the following year. The Guardian Council’s move highlighted divisions in Iran’s rival political camps.
The reformist press accused the body of violating the constitution, while ultraconservatives hailed its intervention as a much-needed reform. Reformist daily Shargh accused the council of making “not just an amendment, but in effect entering into lawmaking”. The move made “disqualifying candidates tied to major movements easier”, it said, because grounds such as “lack of adherence to Islam or link to hostile groups” were increasingly hard to validate.
In contrast, the ultraconservative Vatan-e Emrooz said it was “an end to lawbreaking” and Kayhan daily lauded the council for having filled “a legal void”. More than 20 public figures have officially announced their intention to run. Rouhani himself is unable to take part as the constitution prohibits the president from running after serving two consecutive terms. – AFP