PHOTO: Seyed Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the late Ayatollah Khomeini

Iran’s Guardian Council has reaffirmed its disqualification of Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, from February 26 elections.

Khomeini had entered political life in an attempt to join the 88-member Assembly, which chooses and can nominally replace the Supreme Leader. However, he was among the 80% of 801 candidates purged by the Guardian Council last month.

Submitting the final list of approved candidates on Wednesday, the Council said Khomeini did not possess an adequate level of Islamic knowledge “in order to discern the qualifications for the next Supreme Leader”.

Beyond the official statement, there may be political reasons for blocking Khomeini. Although he has not publicly joined any faction, he is seen as close to the centrist movement of President Hassan Rouhani and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In addition, Khomeini was targeted by hardliners after the disputed 2009 Presidential elections “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In June 2010, he was shouted down by hecklers as he tried to give a speech at the memorial ceremony for the anniversary of his grandfather’s death.

Hardliners and some conservative factions continue to fear that centrists will be successful in the February elections for the Assembly and the 290-seat Parliament. They have accused leading figures such as Rafsanjani of foreign-backed “sedition” to undermine the Islamic Republic.

Rafsanjani is seeking to regain the chair of the Assembly, which he held from 2007 to 2011.

The Council did include Rafsanjani on its final approved list, as well as President Rouhani and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi.

Approved hardline and conservative candidates included the current leader of the Guardian Council, Ayatollah Jannati; current Assembly chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi; and Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, head of the hardline Endurance Front.