PHOTO: Iran’s Supreme Leader addresses election officials on Wednesday


Iran’s Supreme Leader has defended the disqualification of hundreds, possibly thousands, of candidates for February’s elections.

Over the weekend, as Iranians and the world watched ceremonies heralding the implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal, the Guardian Council carried out a mass purge of those hoping to stand for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses the Supreme Leader.

Of Iran’s current 290 MPs, 50 were reportedly barred from seeking re-election. Only 30 of 3,000 reformists were approved, with others either banned or left in limbo. Some conservatives were also blocked including MP Ali Motahari, who has been critical of elements within the regime, and 13 politicians linked to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani.

The bans came amid fears of hardliners and some conservative factions of a centrist bloc around President Rouhani and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and of a possible centrist alliance with reformists.

See Iran Daily, Jan 19: Anger Grows As 1000s of Election Candidates May Be Disqualified

In an address to election officials, the Supreme Leader supported the disqualifications with the implication that those barred were trying to undermine the Islamic Republic.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s line is close to the growing campaign since the autumn — promoted by clerics, MPs, and military commanders — that politicians like Rafsanjani are trying to organize “sedition” and that Government officials are appeasing the effort.

Khamenei tried to defend the Council with a jab at the American system.

The message appeared to cut off President Rouhani’s reaction on Sunday that he would “discuss the matter with the Council so if any mistake has been made in the qualification process it can be solved”.

“We Cannot Trust US Smiles and Masks”

The Supreme Leader also used today’s address to repeat his denunciation of a “deceitful” US, even as he supported the implementation of the nuclear deal.

He asserted, “Deceitfulness is common for the other party. We cannot trust smiles & masks. The America of Reagan and Bush eras & today are not different.”

See Iran Feature: Supreme Leader Hails Nuclear Deal But Denounces US

Khamenei warned that Iran’s “officials must retaliate” if the US breached the deal.

And the Supreme Leader linked his warning of “sedition” with Iran’s brief detention of 10 US Navy personnel last week.

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