Women cannot stand for Iran president: Cleric

AFP , Friday 17 May 2013

Iranian hardline cleric says law prohibits women from running for presidential elections

Iranian women walk in front of the pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic (R) and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran February 1, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Women can not contest Iran's June 14 presidential election, a member of the Islamic state's electoral watchdog said in media reports on Friday, dashing the hopes of some 30 female candidates.

"The law prohibits women from being president," said hardline cleric and former judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, quoted by the Mehr news agency.

Yazdi is a prominent member of Iran's Guardians Council, an unelected watchdog controlled by religious conservatives and appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that is tasked mainly with vetting candidates.

The vetting process is designed to ensure candidates are faithful to the principles of the Islamic republic and its official religion.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, it has rejected all female candidates for the presidency, although women have been allowed to stand in parliamentary elections and to serve as lawmakers.

A final list of hopefuls who can contest the June 14 poll is expected to be announced early next week. Some 686 people, including 30 women, registered their candidacy last week.

Yazdi said that under the constitution only men can run for the presidency, but did not specify if this was his interpretation or that of the council.

In 2009, the watchdog's spokesman, Abbasali Kadkhodai, said there was no restriction on women standing for president.

The Guardians Council had "never rejected anyone's candidacy because (he or she) was a woman or a man, and when a woman's candidacy was rejected it was because she did not have the overall skills," he said at the time.

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