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Iran MPs try to sidestep Guardian Council oversight

Iranian MPs attempted to pass a bill that would reduce the Guardian Council's powers in the 2016 parliamentary elections.
Members of Iran's Assembly of Experts, Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi (up-R) and head of the Guardian Council, Ahmad Janati (up-C), attend a session to appoint a new chairman on March 10, 2015 in Tehran. The Assembly of Experts, the clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country's supreme leader, picked the ultraconservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as their new chairman in a surprise appointment. AFP PHOTO / BEHROUZ MEHRI        (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran's Guardian Council rejected a parliamentary bill May 1 that would have automatically qualified current members of parliament (MPs) to run in the February 2016 elections. Had the bill been accepted by the council, it would have extended the qualification of current MPs — a Principlist majority — without re-evaluation by the Ministry of Intelligence, the judiciary or the police.

In fact, had the Guardian Council, which determines whether parliamentary bills comply with the constitution and Islamic rules, approved the bill, it would have stripped itself of one of its main duties: the qualification of candidates. The parliament adopted the bill — described as controversial by Iranian media — with 125 votes in favor, 54 against and 8 neutral. Exactly one day later, the Guardian Council announced its formal disagreement. Council spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian told the Iranian Students News Agency that "the bill, which gave privileges to current MPs, was in contradiction with the constitution."

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