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Thursday, 18 May, 2000, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Iranian leader endorses poll results
Ayatollah Khamene'i
Ayatollah Khamenei said most results should stand
By Jim Muir in Tehran

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has ruled that the results of the February general elections for Tehran should be largely validated.

This comes despite misgivings by the Council of Guardians, the highly conservative body constitutionally charged with approving the results.

Three months on from the elections, the voters of Tehran are still waiting for the final results in their constituency, which commands 30 seats.

Although it was clear that reformist candidates virtually swept the board, there were allegations of vote-rigging and other irregularities, so several recounts were ordered.

Open rift

The process was complicated by an open rift between the Council of Guardians, which supervises the polls, and the reformist-inclined Interior Ministry which administers them.

As delays dragged on and political tensions rose, reformists accused the right-winters of manoeuvring to cancel the Tehran results.

Father and baby voting
There has been a tense wait for the results

They said this was part of a wider campaign to derail the new reformist-dominated parliament before it could even convene.

But the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, played a key role in keeping the constitutional process on the rails.

Now, in response to a letter from the Council of Guardians, he has delivered a ruling which will ensure that the bulk of the Tehran seats will be validated.

Irregularities alleged

The council said it had been unable to do so. It had managed to recount only 867 of the more than 3,000 ballot boxes involved and it had found widespread irregularities, it said.

In his ruling, President Khameni told them to invalidate those boxes which had definitely been tampereed with, but to accept the rest of the results as originally declared.

Hashemi Rafsanjani
Will Rafsanjani make it into parliament?

Further delays and uncertainty, he said, were not in the interests of the people.

So the next step should be for the council to announce the amended results, with some candidates towards the bottom of the list losing out this time and having to wait for a by-election.

Most interest will focus on the man who came in the 30th position, the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani.

He was the front-runner for the right-wing factions.

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See also:

07 May 00 | Middle East
Iran's Guardians allege poll fraud
06 May 00 | Middle East
High turnout in Iran run-off
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
24 Feb 00 | Middle East
Iran's unique election
26 Feb 00 | Iran election news
Iran elections: Special report
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