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Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 22:47 GMT 23:47 UK


World: Middle East

Khatami confronts election body

President Khatami and his followers are regarded as liberals in Iran

President Khatami of Iran is reported to have protested to an electoral body which disqualified most of his supporters from standing in a crucial election this month.

No details have been released, but Mr Khatami is believed to have expressed his deep concern about the way the body screened candidates for the Assembly of Experts, a clerical council which has the power to appoint and dismiss Iran's supreme leader - currently Ayatollah Khamenei.

President Khatami is also reported to have had emergency talks with Ayatollah Khamenei on the issue.

Moderates 'furious'

Moderate groups are said to be furious the conservatives have used their influence in the election supervisory body - the Guardian Council - to disqualify almost all of their candidates, including some prominent clerics.


[ image: Ayatollah Khamenei is the figurehead for the conservative establishment]
Ayatollah Khamenei is the figurehead for the conservative establishment
The BBC Iranian Affairs analyst Sadeq Sabab says they were hoping to enter the powerful Assembly of Experts in an attempt to make it more democratic.

Excluded candidates have accused the council of being partisan.

Our correspondent says if President Khatami fails to persuade the election body to reinstate at least some of the candidates, there could be a widespread boycott of the elections.

But it is unlikely that there will be drastic changes, because the conservatives fear that the moderates could use the assembly to curb the vast powers enjoyed by the supreme leader.



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