A constitutional body in Iran has ruled that women cannot run in presidential elections scheduled for June 14.
Mohammad Yazdi, a clerical member of the Guardian Council, said the Constitution ruled out the participation of women, British broadcaster BBC reported May 17. Thirty women registered as candidates, but there had been little expectation they would be allowed to stand.
The Guardian Council is charged with vetting election candidates according to their Islamic credentials. Observers say there is ambiguity in the Constitution about the participation of women in presidential elections in Iran. But, the latest interpretation appears to put an end to the debate. The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Yazdi as saying that the “law does not approve” of a woman in the presidency and a woman on the ballot is “not allowed.” Women are able to stand for election to the Iranian Parliament and have served as lawmakers.
The race for Iran's highest elected office took a stunning turn at the weekend when former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili officially registered for the June 14 election. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term, but he endorsed his controversial aide and ex-chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei on May 11. But the final line-up of presidential candidates will not be known until later this month when Iran's Guardian Council releases the approved list of names after the vetting process.
Earlier this month, hard-line Iranian lawmakers petitioned authorities to bar Rafsanjani and Mashaei from running in the election. In the previous elections of 2009, 475 hopefuls registered but the Guardian Council only gave its approval to four. The results of those elections were disputed by the opposition, triggering mass street protests. Reformist candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were detained and remain under house arrest.
U.S. officials also had slammed a campaign of “unrelenting repression” ahead of Iran's presidential elections, and said the outcome would be very hard to predict amid a secret vetting process, according to Agence France-Presse.
Denouncing “a deliberate and unrelenting level of repression in the lead-up to these elections,” Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said the council was “using vague criteria to eliminate potential candidates.” “Without a transparent process, it is difficult for us to say whether Iran's elections will be free, fair, or represent the will of the Iranian people,” she said.