05/21/2013, 00.00
IRAN
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Guardians Council might exclude Rafsanjani for not meeting necessary criteria

The former president has the support of moderates, but he might be too old, has led a lavish lifestyle and could be unable to perform his tasks. Ahmadinejad's ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie might also be excluded because he is disliked by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The official list of presidential candidates will be released on Thursday.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Rafsanjani, Iranian president from 1989 to 1997, is too old, has led a lavish lifestyle and cannot work more than a few hours, Guardians Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei is reported as saying. This confirms rumours that the former president and main moderate candidate could be barred from running in the upcoming presidential election on 14 June. Tasked with examining the candidacy of 686 men and women who registered for the race, the Council will release its final list next Thursday. Most applicants are expected to be disqualified.

Those who want to run in Iran's presidential election must meet certain criteria. He (only males are allowed) cannot be Christian, Jewish or Sunni Muslim. He must be "pious", "trustworthy" and have "a good record". He must have a religious or political background, and not be involved in civil society groups. He must show initiative, sport "managerial skills," not have criminal record, "believe" in the existing system" and be loyal.

Statements about Rafsanjani, who is a millionaire and an opponent of Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, show once more that moderates cannot run for office, turning the election into a farce, this according to experts.

This year's vote comes four years after Ahmadinejad's reelection was challenged in the streets with hundreds of dead and wounded.

First praised by the Council, the president saw his popularity take a plunge. He also came into conflict with the supreme leader.

In addition to Rafsanjani, the other main loser is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, Ahmadinejad's main ally.

Both men have been targeted by ultra-conservatives who have put pressure on the Council to have them disqualified. Should they be included however, they would be the main opponents of the conservative bloc.

Without Rafsanjani and Mashaie, the race would instead be limited to three main conservative candidates: former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, current Tehran Mayor Baqer Qalibaf and nuclear talks chief Mohammad Saeed Jalili.

Velayati, 67, was foreign minister for 16 years from 1981 but appears to lack popular support, unlike Iran-Iraq war veteran Qalibaf, who was national police chief and succeeded Ahmadinejad as Tehran mayor in 2005.

Since he took office, the latter has overseen huge projects in the capital, despite being denied government financing. However, some of Qalibaf's projects are deemed too Western for ultra-conservatives.

Jalili is close to the all-powerful Khamenei. His unexpected candidacy is supported by ultra-conservatives for his firmness in discussions with the great powers over Tehran's controversial atomic activities. However, political observers say he lacks both administrative experience and public support.

 

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