01/26/2004, 00.00
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Guardians Council votes down electoral reform law

Tehran (AsiaNews) – This morning the Guardians Council voted down the law proposal approved yesterday by the Majlis (Iran's Parliament), stating that "it goes against Islam and certain articles of the constitution."

The Parliament's proposal was aimed at reforming electoral law, but particularly at limitiing the Guardians Council's power of veto over election candidates.

The Guardians Council is an 11-member body, half of which are religious leaders while the other 6 are judges. They are nominated, either directly or indirectly, by the ayatollah Khamenei. Their duty is to guarantee the compatibility of parliamentary decisions with that of the shariah (Islamic law)

The Parliament's law proposal attempted to impede the Council's vetoing of candidates, unless he or she had not violated Iranian law. It asked, in addition, that if this were the case, evidence for the candidate's violation be presented.

Currently the Council has the power to remove any candidate from election lists if it believes him to lack respect for Islam. In reality, it has the power to marginalize any political opposition.

For the upcoming Feb. 20 elections the Guardians Council (conservatives) has excluded 3605 persons (all reformists) from the list of candidates, among whom are 80 deputies of the current Majlis, made up mostly reformists and supporters of president Khatami.   

The decision unleashed a wave of protests and a sit-in among Iran's members of parliament, who threatened to quit their positions. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the Iranian president's brother and head of Iran's Islamic Participation Front (Iran's largest reform party), called the move a "mockery of democracy" and promised that the "the Majlis will become a center of resistance against this illegal action."

The confrontation between conservatives and reformists is making way for a period of crisis, becoming ever more intense in Iranian society. According to some local personalities, at least 90% of Iranians are tired of the power of religious leaders. (PB)

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See also
Mousavi calls for another day of mourning and protest
No surprises expected in tomorrow’s vote in Iran
Parliament – Guardians Council: compromise in sight
Khomeini's long shadow hangs over elections
Electoral defeat announced for reformists


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