Iran may bar opposition from election
TEHRAN — Iran’s hard-liners are intensifying efforts to eliminate the opposition movement from the country’s political landscape by demanding that their candidates be barred from running in next year’s legislative races.
The calls by key figures signal a new round of confrontation between Iran’s opposing political forces, a clash that exploded into months of street violence after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in 2009.
The opposition said its leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was the real winner.
Hard-liners are renewing their accusations that those who challenged the presidential vote and later confronted Iran’s ruling system are traitors in league with enemies who sought to overthrow the political and clerical leadership.
“Basically, there is no need for the participation of these people in the elections,’’ Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was quoted as saying in several newspapers. “They’ve had dreams that won’t be materialized. Authorities and people don’t trust them at all.’’
Jannati heads a powerful constitutional watchdog called the Guardian Council that screens candidates. His stance is a strong indication the body will disqualify political critics from running in parliamentary elections expected in February 2012.
In the 2008 parliamentary elections, the council disqualified thousands of candidates.
Opposition politicians themselves appear ready to boycott the next polls unless they are assured they will be free and fair. Former president Mohammad Khatami said groups calling for political and social change are also demanding that political prisoners be freed and that the constitutional rights of all citizens be respected.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to support opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in 2009, and some powerful clerics sided with his slate. The wave of protest was the biggest challenge to Iran’s clerical leadership since it came to power in 1979.
A crackdown suppressed the protests, and many in the opposition — from midlevel political figures to street activists, journalists, and human rights workers — were arrested. The movement has not held a major protest since December 2009.
Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, said Friday that reformist leaders are not in a position to set conditions and it was only a matter of time before they are put on trial for the postelection unrest.