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Iran Council May Reconsider Vote

January 13, 2000

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ A hard-line council that disqualified at least 69 reformist candidates from running for parliament has admitted it might have misjudged some of them, newspapers reported Thursday.

The Guardian Council’s move has been heavily criticized, and one prominent hopeful urged Iran’s president to intervene. The council insisted its rulings were legal but asked all disqualified candidates to file a written complaint for reconsideration.

``There is a possibility of misjudgment in approving or disapproving nominees,″ the council said in a statement published in Iranian newspapers.

With Iranians chafing under the strict Islamic rules imposed by the hard-liners, reformists looked to sweep the Feb. 18 election. Reformists said hard-liners are trying to prevent that with underhanded methods.

On Monday, the council said it had disqualified 69 reformists for what it called ``lack of commitment to Islam and the Islamic establishment″ and lack of support for Iran’s hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Behzad Nabavi, spokesman of a broad alliance of pro-reform groups, told the Sobh-e-Emruz daily that at least 80 candidates have been disqualified on false charges. Nabavi, who was approved to run, urged reformist President Mohammad Khatami to protect the rights of those disqualified.

Iran’s Majlis, or parliament, is controlled by hard-liners. Without the Majlis on his side, Khatami is powerless to go ahead with plans to grant greater democracy to Iran’s 60 million people.

A record 6,860 candidates had registered and the final list is to be published before Feb. 9.

The hard-line Assembly of Experts on Thursday appealed to voters not to elect pro-West hopefuls and condemned any opposition to Khamenei.

``The authority of the supreme leader is the backbone of the system and is an unquestionable principle,″ said a statement by the 86-member Assembly of Experts, which elects and supervises the supreme leader.

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