TEHRAN, Iran – Some Iranian (search) Cabinet ministers and vice presidents have resigned to protest the disqualifications of thousands of prospective election candidates, Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi (search) said Wednesday.
Abtahi did not say how many officials resigned nor did he identify them.
"A number of Cabinet ministers and a number of vice presidents have resigned. Naturally, they are waiting to see how things go," Abtahi said after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace.
"The Cabinet ministers are very serious in their resignation."
When asked if he had also resigned, Abtahi smiled but did not respond.
The crisis was triggered when supervisory bodies affiliated with Iran's Guardian Council (search), an unelected body controlled by hard-liners, disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people who applied as candidates in the Feb. 20 elections.
State media controlled by hard-liners say those disqualified failed to meet the legal criteria for candidacy, but reformists maintain the move was intended to skew the elections in favor of conservatives.
The announcement of the resignations came a day after the Guardian Council said it was reinstating 200 candidates and would reconsider the cases of thousands more. That came after fierce opposition from reformists.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who is attending an international conference in Davos, Switzerland, must approve the resignations for them to take effect.
Khatami, a leading reformer, has warned that he also might resign if the disqualifications are not reversed.