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.