TEHRAN - One of Iran's most prominent dissidents, Ebrahim Yazdi, announced Tuesday that he would stand in the June presidential election, but only on the condition that powerful hardliners resign and political prisoners are freed from jail.
"I will run for presidency if members of the Guardians Council resign," the head of the banned Iran Freedom Movement told reporters.
The Guardians Council, an unelected 12-member body controlled by hardliners, holds the power to screen all legislation and candidates for parliament or the presidency.
Prior to the February 2004 parliament elections, the Council barred thousands of candidates from standing - most of them reformists.
"These people have been unjust and are not competent to be there," the 73-year-old dissident said.
"Pressure on political activists and the press must stop and all political prisoners must also be freed," he added.
Yazdi is currently facing charges of seeking to overthrow the Islamic regime, and is a figure the Guardians Council would be highly unlikely to approve as a presidential candidate in the June 17 polls.
He was a close aide to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during his final years in exile in 1978 in France, and served as foreign minister in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan.
The Iran Freedom Movement, founded in the 1960s by Bazargan, is a liberal nationalist opposition movement seen as close to Iran's reformers.
The group was tolerated until 2001 but is now banned in Iran because it questions certain principles of the Islamic Republic.