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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Reformists deny Iran vote fraud
The results of February's elections are disputed
The Iranian government is denying allegations of widespread electoral fraud in February's parliamentary elections.

The Interior Ministry said they were baseless.

The allegations were made by the powerful, conservative-led Council of Guardians, which must approve all election results.

President Mohamad Khatami
Khatami is trying to overcome hardline resistance

It has already annulled the vote in 12 constituencies outside Tehran, and has yet to validate the capital's results after carrying out a third recount.

Reformists have expressed concern that the Council of Guardians is preparing to annul the victories of their candidates there.

The council says voting irregularities were found in almost 90% of recounted ballot boxes in Tehran.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement: "Making public the results of the recount of 1,167 ballot boxes will prove these allegations are baseless."

Power battle

Tehran is seen as a crucial power base for implementing change.

Reformists, who want to loosen the strict Islamic rule of the conservative clergy, won a big victory in national elections for the 290-seat parliament, ousting the hardliners from the legislature for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution brought the clergy to power.

In February, the reformists won about 120 seats and, in a second round of voting on Friday, they won 46 seats - more than three-quarters of those at stake.

The elections are to the new parliament, which is due to convene on 27 May.

The reformists, who support President Mohammad Khatami, are locked in a political power struggle with the conservative old guard, who closed most of the pro-reform press last month.

The Council of Guardians said that, at 505 of 577 polling stations reviewed, fraud affected at least 10% of the votes - the figure at which the council had earlier hinted the results of the election in the capital would be cancelled.

Mohammad-Reza Khatami, the president's brother who leads the Islamic Iran Participation Front, called the results "a clear message to all those people who have been resorting to illegal means and seemingly legal pretexts to defeat this promising movement".

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See also:

07 May 00 | Middle East
Iran's Guardians allege poll fraud
06 May 00 | Middle East
Iran reformists win second ballot
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
28 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iranian president calls for calm
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
24 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran's unique election
07 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iranians riot after vote annulled
12 Mar 00 | Middle East
Reformist victories cancelled in Iran
22 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
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