World

Kerry says Iranian election maneuvering stands in the way of real democracy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2013. The US and Israel raised hopes Thursday for a restart of the Middle East peace process, despite little tangible progress so far from Kerry's two-month-old effort to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.  (AP Photo/Jim Young, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2013. The US and Israel raised hopes Thursday for a restart of the Middle East peace process, despite little tangible progress so far from Kerry's two-month-old effort to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. (AP Photo/Jim Young, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is harshly criticizing Iran's guardian council for eliminating hundreds of presidential candidates and, in his view, standing in the way of legitimate, representative democracy.

Kerry says it is hardly a free, fair and transparent process when an unelected body chooses some candidates "solely on who represents the regime's interests."

He says the alternative, who represents the will of the Iranian people, should guide the elections.

Iran's Guardian Council has disqualified scores of candidates, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, dealing a demoralizing blow to pro-reform groups.