Iran's interior ministry vows to back Tehran reformers
TEHRAN, April 28 (AFP) - The tug-of-war between Iran's rival factions
reached a new peak Wednesday as the reformist-led interior ministry vowed
to ignore a move by parliamentary conservatives to disqualify five leading
moderates in the capital.
The interior ministry insisted that all five of the reformist candidates
whose disqualification had been ordered by the head of the conservative
dominated election supervision council would be present at the first meeting
of the capital's new city council on Thursday.
"All leading vote-getters will be present at the official opening
session ... (and) any attempt aimed at disturbing public opinion will not
have the least effect," a ministry statement said.
The ministry said the disqualification of the five candidates was merely
the "personal opinion" of the supervision council's chief, conservative
MP Ali Movahedi-Savoji, and reiterated that the deadline had passed for
challenging the results of February's municipal elections, the first in
The most prominent of the five reformers targetted, former vice president
and interior minister Abdollah Nuri, accused the election supervision
committee of joining in a partisan campaign to undermine the reformist
government of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.
The president's opponents were "trying to pressure the government
through all the means at their disposal," Nuri told the official news
The supervision council confirmed the disqualification of the five
reformers on Tuesday, just two days ahead of the city council's opening
session, and did not include them in a list of final elections results.
Nuri and two other candidates, reformist civil servants, Ahmad Hakimi-Pour
and Mohammad Atrianfar, were barred on the grounds that they had failed
to resign from their official positions as required before the election.
Former deputy intelligence minister Said Hajarian, who runs the moderate
daily Sobh-e-Emrouz, was disqualified because of the "ambiguous nature"
of his written commitment to the constitutional principle of velayat-e
faqih, or supreme rule by the country's spiritual guide.
And Ebrahim Asqarzadeh, a leader of the 1980 hostage-taking of US diplomats
here, was disqualified because of a conviction by a revolutionary court.
Pro-Khatami candidates won all 15 seats up for grabs in Tehran and
also made major gains nationwide following a bitterly fought campaign against
Even without the five reformers targetted for disqualification, Tehran
municipal council would still be dominated by moderates, although at least
three conservative candidates could be coopted through a substitute list.