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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Mixed signals ahead of Iran poll
Demonstration
Iran has seen a powerful upsurge of anti-reformist sentiments
The second round of the parliamentary elections in Iran will be held on 5 May, Iran's state radio has reported.

Quoting an official announcement by the Interior Ministry, the radio said the second round would take place in 52 constituencies where candidates failed to achieve 25% of the total votes cast in the first round.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Khamenei appears to have proclaimed support for the reformist president
The announcement came as Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made another strong attack on the pro-reform press, while proclaiming his full support for reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

"The president is a defender of Islam and the revolution," Iranian radio quoted Ayatollah Khamenei as saying in a speech to leading politicians.

"Certain persons are interpreting the sincere remarks of some of the country's leaders as being directed against the president. This interpretation is false, and I, relying on fundamental principles, give my strong support to the president," he said.



The president is a defender of Islam and the revolution

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
However, Ayatollah Khamenei also made another attack on the reformist media - following the clampdown on the president's strongest supporters in the press.

He said the pro-reform press was making mountains out of molehills and "turning public opinion against Islam, the revolution and the Islamic system".


Khatami
President Khatami is trying to overcome hardliners' resistance to reforms
"The various streams of opinion faithful to Islam and the revolution must state their positions and condemn those who, inside and outside the country, want to block the revolution, the way of Imam Khomeini, the pre-eminence of the guide, and the constitution under cover of reforms."

The speech came three days after the suspension by the conservative press court of more than a dozen daily newspapers and other publications close to Mr Khatami.

The crackdown brought Iranian students out onto the streets in peaceful protest.

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See also:

26 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iranian protest at press closures
25 Apr 00 | Middle East
Hardliners turn up heat on Khatami
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iran names second round election date
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
Court warns Khatami's brother
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
22 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iranian reformist journalist arrested
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