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Iran's Cabinet insists on need to hold free, fair and competitive election

First Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref chaired a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Sunday, IRNA reported.

The presidential press office said the session initially heard reports on the electoral trend presented on by Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari and the members of the Cabinet's select committee on the upcoming 7th Majlis election following the explicit views expressed by the Guardian Council (GC) on vetting the candidates.

Lari said the common view of the expert committees of the provincial governors and governor generals is that the conditions for a fair, free and competitive election are yet ripe.

The select committee said "contrary to all good intentions, and all stabs at cooperation and consultations the committee has failed to forge a consensus with the GC on the eligibility of the aspirants."

The committee members also refuted "the assertions that a list has been provided to the GC," stressing that in all their consultations with the oversight body, "they have insisted on the necessity for legality of rejecting of candidates eligibility."

It also highlighted the intelligent ministry as the sole legal body qualified for probing into the candidates' qualifications saying "the committee has presented to the GC the reasons for affirming many of the hitherto rejected candidates."

The cabinet then decided that they will present the minutes of the meeting to President Mohammad Khatami and "voted to render its total support for the president' position that only a free, fair and competitive election should be held on schedule."

Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi on Sunday called for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's intervention to put an end to the ongoing dispute over the mass disqualification of candidates from parliamentary elections on February 20.

The request came as 108 MPs submitted their resignation to Karroubi after their demands for reinstating many of those disqualified from standing in the elections fell on deaf ears.

Parliament has now to examine the resignations separately, which Karroubi said will begin next week, and vote on them. This, however, depends on the participation of the MPs in parliament sessions to meet the required two-thirds quorum.

Over 2,000 prospective candidates from among more than 8,000 of those who registered for the elections have been declared as disqualified by the Guardians Council.

Among those barred are more than 80 sitting MPs, who held a sit-in for more than two weeks in protest to the disqualifications.

... Payvand News - 2/2/04 ... --

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