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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran reports:
"Rafsanjani is the most vulnerable to relegation by a recount"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 01:19 GMT
Recount ordered of Tehran votes
former President Rafsanjani
Rafsanjani narrowly won the 30th seat in parliament
The Iranian authorities say they will recount the votes from one-third of all the ballot boxes in Tehran constituencies, following complaints from candidates in last week's parliamentary elections.

Javad Qadimi Zaker, the director-general of elections, said the recount would hopefully "dispel every anxiety about the likelihood of faulty counting of ballots in the first count".

Reformists allied to President Mohammad Khatami won the top 29 positions out of the 30 allotted to Tehran in the 18 February elections.

President Khatami
The recount won't affect reformist President Khatami's victory
The 30th seat was narrowly won by the once popular former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was supported by right-wing factions and was the only non-reformist candidate to win a seat.

The announcement on Tuesday that about one million ballots will be recounted by hand - a process which could take several days - follows many complaints, including one from the candidate who finished 31st.

Ali Akbar Rahmmani, a reformer placed just behind Mr Rafsanjani, protested against the result on Sunday, saying a number of his votes were given to a namesake among the 860 candidates from Tehran.

A new count of about 35 ballot boxes was ordered following his complaint.

'Possibility of mistakes'

Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh admitted on Sunday there was a "possibility of mistakes", but said that these were not significant and could be "easily rectified".

"We held free and fair elections without any kind of tension or problem", he told a news conference.

Mostafa Tajzadeh
Mostafa Tajzadeh has vigorously defended the polls
"We promise the people we have not allowed even one vote to be manipulated" he said.

The new results won't change the overall picture of a sweeping victory for the refomists, but could mean a humiliating relegation for Mr Rafsanjani.

The BBC's Jim Muir, reporting from Tehran, says that would compound the injury from what has been a thoroughly unhappy experience for the conservative Iranian Islamic establishment.

Reformists won 170 seats in the new 290-seat Majlis, or Parliament. Hard-liners and conservatives won 45, and 10 went to independents. The remaining 65 have gone to a run-off, expected in April.

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26 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Iranian media reviews election results
23 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Iran's unique election
26 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Rafsanjani scrapes in
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Analysis: Obstacles to change
22 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
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