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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 February, 2004, 15:09 GMT
Tehran bans student demonstration
Students demand release of arrested colleagues
The students had wanted to protest outside their university
Iranian students say they have been banned from holding a demonstration to support reformist candidates barred from this month's election.

The student news agency, ISNA, quoted the Tehran governor's office as saying no authorisation had been given for a rally planned in the city on Wednesday.

Student protests last year sparked a national security crackdown.

Iran has been embroiled in a three-week row between conservatives and reformists over the 20 February poll.

Request denied

The Tehran University branches of the Islamic Association said they had requested permission to stage a demonstration outside the main campus.

But Ali Taala, director of political and security affairs for the city, was quoted as telling the students: "No gathering will be allowed outside the entrance of Tehran University."

Correspondents say students are often seen as a driving force behind the reformist movement.

Last week, the main pro-democracy student movement, the Office to Consolidate Unity, OCU, called for a national boycott of the elections from which thousands of candidates have been banned by the conservative Guardians Council.

The students also called for a referendum on the country's political future.

But Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said on Tuesday that he hopes the controversy will be resolved to allow free and fair elections.

Speaking during a visit to Ukraine, Mr Kharrazi said Iran was following a path of democratic change.

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