Iran has begun registration of candidates for running in the country’s parliamentary elections set for February 2020, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.
The elections will be a gauge for the popularity of the electoral camps that President Hassan Rouhani represents.
The current speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, who played a major role in the government increasing energy prices, has said he will not run in the election. He has been speaker for 12 years.
The elections will be held February 21 and the new parliament will begin working in May.
Candidates run in 208 constituencies for 290 seats. A constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, vets and must approve those wishing to run in the elections.
Those wishing to register must be between 30 and 75 years old, and hold a masters degree to be qualified.
The opening of registration comes after unrest over government-set petrol prices last month.
The unrest broke out on November 15, hours after it was announced that the price of gas would rise to 15,000 rials per liter (12 US cents) from 10,000 for the first 60 liters, and to 30,000 rials for any extra fuel bought after that each month. The government in Tehran said proceeds from the fuel price hike would go to the most needy people in the country.
Iran has not released any figure on the death toll, though Amnesty International says at least 161 were killed in the protests. An Iranian lawmaker has said more than 7,000 were arrested. Iran on Saturday disputed Amnesty’s figures.
“Statistics by international organizations on those killed in the recent incidents are not credible,” Iran’s deputy interior minister, Jamal Orf was quoted as saying by IRNA. Orf accused the sources that reported the figures of “exaggerating” them. The prosecution service, he added, was set to announce the figures based on those it receives from the coroner’s office.
The governments of the United States, France and Germany have condemned Iran over the bloodshed.
Iran’s economy has been battered since last year, when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.