Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has sharply criticized the country's constitutional watchdog for barring moderate candidates from running in elections for a top clerical body — including Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of the Islamic Republic's founder.

The Guardian Council barred Khomeini from running in the Feb. 26 election for the Assembly of Experts. The council screens candidates before allowing them to run. It has disqualified thousands of candidates from standing in both the Assembly elections and parliamentary elections scheduled for the same day.

Many candidates have been disqualified because they were not seen to be sufficiently loyal to the ruling system in the eyes of the Guardian Council members.

Rafsanjani spoke out against the council's decisions in comments posted on his website Monday.