Iran’s election overseers have cleared only one-fifth of the potential candidates seeking a spot on the panel with powers to select the country’s next supreme leader, an official said Tuesday. The rejections appear to be another stand by hard-liners seeking to hold back more moderate-leaning groups after some high-profile strides under President Hassan Rouhani, including a nuclear deal with world powers that lifted international sanctions. Such widespread vetting of candidates is a fixture of Iranian politics that allows the culling of those perceived as potential threats to the ruling system and its protectors, led by the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
But next month’s twin elections — for the 290-seat parliament and the 88-member body known as the Assembly of Experts — are seen as important tests of whether more- conservative forces can maintain their voice in Iranian affairs.
Of the 801 candidates seeking to run in the election for the Assembly of Experts — a group with the powerful mandate to select Iran’s top leader — just 166 were approved for the Feb. 26 ballot, the state-run IRNA news agency reported, citing assembly spokesman Siamak Rahpeik. The assembly would name a successor after the death of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is 76.