Dubai: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday called on all Iranians to participate in next month's elections to parliament and to the Assembly of Experts, that will choose his successor.
Iranians will go to the polls on February 26 for the first time since last year's historic nuclear deal with world powers.
"Everyone should participate in the elections; even those who do not accept the ruling system should participate for the sake of the country's standing," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA and other agencies.
Khamenei previously called for wide participation before the last presidential election in 2013, in which President Hassan Rouhani trounced a fractious field of conservatives by unifying moderate voters and winning over reformists.
A record 12,000 candidates have nominated themselves for parliament but the Guardian Council, an unelected judicial body that vets candidates on technical and ideological grounds, is likely to disqualify several thousand of them before voters go to the polls.
Candidates for the Assembly of Experts include prominent centrists such as Rouhani; former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami; and Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The younger Khomeini, 43, is seen as close to the reformist camp and is the first member of his family to test his popularity at the polls. Hardliners have campaigned against his candidacy, but Khamenei has given him a cautious blessing to proceed.