[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 23:05 GMT
Iranian minister urges poll delay
Reformist party members protest in Tehran, 27 January 2004
The move comes amid a row about disqualified candidates
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari has asked for a postponement of parliamentary elections due to be held next month.

The move follows warnings from Iranian provincial governors that a vote may not be possible as there are not enough candidates for a free, fair election.

Earlier this month the conservative Guardians Council barred more than 3,000 candidates from the elections.

The interior minister called on the Council to approve the delay.

In a letter he said that a new date should be set for the vote - which at present is to be held on 20 February - to give the council more time to review its decision.

"I ask this council to urgently study my request," the Iranian state news agency Irna quoted the minister's letter as saying.

Student boycott call

The 12-member Guardians Council disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people - including more than 80 sitting MPs - who applied to run in the elections.

Considering that people's vote has no affect on the establishment, and there is no way to hold fair and free elections, there is no justification for people to participate in this election
Student group Office for Fostering Unity
So far it has reinstated about 700 of the disqualified candidates, after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered a review.

It is still examining appeals and is due to announce its final decision on the others on Friday.

On Wednesday, Iran's main pro-democracy students' group called on people not to vote in the elections.

"There is no possibility of fair and free elections," the student movement, the Office for Fostering Unity, said in a statement.

"Considering that people's vote has no affect on the establishment, and there is no way to hold fair and free elections, there is no justification for people to participate in this election."

The students urged also reformist MPs to continue their protests against the poll blacklist.

President Mohammad Khatami, himself a reformist, says he still believes the row can be resolved but warned he would not accept even a single "unfair" disqualification.

"Even if one person has been disqualified unfairly, as president, I will defend his right," Mr Khatami told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The president said ministers and vice-presidents had submitted their resignations in protest over the mass disqualifications.

But with negotiations continuing, he said he "will not accept resignations of any kind".




RELATED BBCi LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific