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TEHRAN, Iran - A total of 7,200 people have registered as prospective candidates for the forthcoming parliamentary elections that are widely seen as a referendum on the rule of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The elections will be a key test of Ahmadinejad's hold on power and a harbinger for the 2009 presidential elections.
Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said 7,200 people, including 590 women, registered for the March 14 elections.
Newspaper reports said Saturday that many leading conservative and reformist political figures, including those who were barred from running four years ago, have applied to run.
The hard-line Guardian Council, which barred thousands of reformists from running in 2004, will announce a final list of approved candidates on March 5, leaving only a week for campaigning.
Mass disqualification of reformist candidates allowed hard-liners to regain control of the 290-seat Parliament in a vote reformists denounced as a "historical fiasco."
The Guardian Council's chief, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a key Ahmadinejad ally, said last month that any candidate determined by the committee to be disloyal to the principles of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution would be barred from running.
[Last modified January 13, 2008, 01:07:41]