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AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis A poster with a photo of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, placed by Iranian activists protesting against their government in London on Wednesday
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Women 'cannot stand for president of Iran'

A prominent cleric has said that the law prohibits women from being president.

WOMEN CAN NOT contest Iran’s presidential election on 14 June, a member of the Islamic state’s electoral watchdog said in media reports today, 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.

- © AFP, 2013

Read: Journalist reports existence of Iran ‘vote-rigging’ tape, gets arrested >

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