Iran’s mullahs slated over reformers’ exclusion

Iran’s conservative mullahs face international condemnation after they blocked several thousand reformers from standing at next month’s parliamentary elections.

More than 3,000 of the 8,200 people wanting to run for the parliament’s 290 seats have been barred.

Making their feelings known, Iranian politicians have begun a sit-down strike in parliament, ahead of elections on February 20th.

And in solidarity, the governors of 27 Iranian provinces have threatened to resign if the Guardian Council, the 12-member pro-Islamic body that oversees the Iranian constitution, does not reverse the decision.

Javier Solana, European foreign policy representative, presently in Tehran, has been joined by the US State Department in calling for free, fair and open to all elections.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the US was against impinging on voters’ choices.

“We, as a matter of course, support free and fair elections in Iran, and we are therefore opposed to interference in the electoral process.

“We call upon the Iranian government to disavow attempts by the Guardian Council to shape the outcome of the February 20th parliamentary elections. And we would note that a government’s handling of the electoral process is one of the fundamental measurements of its credibility.”

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pledged to intervene if the issue is not resolved.

“At this stage, there are legal channels and everyone should abide by the law,” Mr Khamenei told provincial governors.

Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said the government had not made up its mind on what to do.

“The top leaders are thinking of a solution so that, God willing, the rights of nobody will be ignored and a crisis does not develop,” he said.