Iran’s vetting body stands by Rafsanjani veto

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Iran’s hardline electoral watchdog, the Guardian Council, on Wednesday stood by its decision to bar former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from Friday’s presidential poll, citing electoral laws.

Rafsanjani was quoted by the ILNA news agency on Tuesday as saying that his disqualification came after “a high-ranking security official, against the norms and law, attended the vetting meeting in the council.”

“The official said: ‘Rafsanjani’s presence in the election could lead to his decisive victory in a landslide’,” the ex-president said of the meeting, without naming anyone.

“The official then convinced the council to disqualify me on excuses of frailty,” Rafsanjani said.

Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei told reporters that “based on the law the Guardians Council is allowed to seek the opinion of other apparatuses and it is a normal procedure.”

“We did so, for some of the candidates and this [method] is not new but in the end, the members of the Guardians Council are the ones who vote to approve each candidate,” Kadkhodaei added.

All members of the Guardian Council are appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, directly or indirectly.

Those remaining in Friday’s contest are Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf; top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili; ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati; former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezai; former communication minister Mohammad Gharazi, and moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani.

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