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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"Rafsanjani's record was fiercely attacked by reformists"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK
Rafsanjani gives up his seat
Tehran University demonstration
Resignation follows anti-Rafsanjani student protests
Former president and conservative veteran Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has said he will not take up his seat in the incoming Iranian parliament.

Mr Rafsanjani was the most prominent conservative on the parliamentary lists and had been expected to be the hardliners' candidate for the key post of parliamentary speaker.

The parliament, which holds its first session on Saturday, is the first to be dominated by reformist supporters since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

In February's elections, Mr Rafsanjani finished a long way behind leading reformist rivals in the vote for the 30 seats of the important Tehran constituency.

Poor showing


Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Rafsanjani was allied to earlier conservative governments
In the first count he only just scraped through in 30th position, although this was revised to 20th place after three months of factional squabbling.

Mr Rafsanjani said he was resigning for reasons of national unity.

"I apologise to the people but given the extent of the propaganda being conducted against me, I am obliged to give up my mandate," he said in a letter quoted on television.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of the reformist president, won the most votes in Tehran.

Embarrassment

The BBC correspondent in Tehran, Jim Muir, says Mr Rafsanjani was known to have been disheartened by his poor showing in the elections.

He was also angered by allegations that his supporters had cheated to get him into parliament at all.

The Council of Guardians, a body dominated by conservatives which has to verify election results, alleged there was widespread fraud in the elections.

Mr Rafsanjani was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, and has already served twice as parliamentary speaker.

He remains a powerful figure as the head of the Expediency Discernment Council, a policy-making body, and as senior advisor to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Observers say the Council will play an important role in adjudicating between the parliament and the Council of Guardians in the coming parliamentary session.

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See also:

24 May 00 | Middle East
Iran's hardline parliament bows out
20 May 00 | Middle East
Rafsanjani gain dents reformist win
08 May 00 | Middle East
Reformists deny Iran vote fraud
26 Apr 00 | Middle East
How far will Iran's conservatives go?
07 May 00 | Middle East
Iran's Guardians allege poll fraud
21 Feb 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
23 Feb 00 | Middle East
West watches Iran
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