02/16/2004, 00.00
iran
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Electoral defeat announced for reformists

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Reformist candidates have announced their electoral defeat at house elections scheduled for Friday, Feb. 20.

Ali Akbar Muhtascemi, who tops a list of Iranian reformist candidates, said today: "We are heading toward election time fully aware of our defeat."

Muhtascemi, who is also president of a pro-reform eight party coalition, added that reformists will be a minority in the next Majlis (Iranian Parliament).    

The reformist MPs, who are supporters of President Khatami, currently hold a majority number of seats in the Majlis, where they claim 200 of 290 parliamentary seats. Yet 80 current MPs have been forbidden to run again as second-term candidates. The decision was made by the constitution's Council of Guardians, which removed 2500 names of reformist candidates from electoral lists.

The situation has created a split between among reformist parties, among those who want to boycott the elections and those who want to proceed as normal, despite knowing their inevitable defeat.  

The Council of Guardians is an 11-member body, half religious leaders and half judges. They are either directly or indirectly nominated by Ayatollah Khamenei and have the role of guaranteeing the compatibility of parliamentary decisions with the shariah (Islamic law).  

The ministry of internal affairs (now in reformist hands) said today that "607 approved candidates (out of 5600 total) have withdrawn their candidacy from elections" (PB).  
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