Iran's Council 'softening' stand

Iran's Guardian Council, that sparked a crisis by barring many reformist candidates from upcoming elections, is now promising to be "lenient" in reviewing their appeals.

    Reformists are protesting the disqualification of the candidates

    The council head, Ayatollah Ahmad Janati on Friday said the body would be "lenient on the candidates" in reviewing its decisions, "but within the boundaries of the law."

    "We will yield to what the leader has told us to do, that is to be lenient with the candidates," Janati said at a weekly prayer in Tehran University.

    Janati's comments hinted at a possible climb down by the council from its earlier rigid posture.

    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week had ordered the conservative-dominated council to be less stringent in its vetting procedure in an apparent attempt to resolve the crisis ahead of the 20 February polls.

    Political crisis

    The 12-member council, which screens all legislation and political candidates, plunged the Islamic republic into a political turmoil after it disqualified 3,605 of the 8,157 people seeking to contest the parliamentary elections.

    "We will yield to what the leader has told us to do, that is to be lenient with the candidates"

    Ayatollah Ahmad Janati

    Most of those barred were reformists including many sitting MPs. Many were senior figures close to reformist President Muhammad Khatami.

    The council has since reinstated some 300 candidates, but none of them are sitting MPs.

    Janati said the row was at least partially defused.

    "There might be some ambiguities among us, the officials, but in a meeting we had with the president and the head of the parliament it turned out that they were given wrong information and that we do not have any difference in principles," he said.

    "We told them that we are ready to listen to anything they think we did wrong, but in the end we will not violate the law," he added.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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