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Reformists in Iran threat

Tehran, May 23 (Reuters): Iran’s main reformist party today said it would boycott the June 17 presidential election after the disqualification of its candidate, which it called an attempt by conservatives to strengthen their grip on power.

Public reaction to the decision to bar former education minister Mostafa Moin, an outspoken reformist who had promised to free political prisoners and tackle human rights abuses, was muted, with most Iranians resigned to a conservative win.

“The illegal disqualification of candidates will turn the elections into a vote which is not free, unjust, uncompetitive and ... a sham,” Moin’s main backer, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), said in a statement. “The IIPF ... will not participate in these elections.” It said it would take part if the ban was reversed.

The reformist-run interior ministry said in a statement the exclusion of some candidates “creates grave concerns” about voter turnout and urged the hardline Guardian Council to review its decision.

Of the six candidates deemed eligible to run, moderate conservative Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries of Moin’s disqualification.

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