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Iran: Over 350 political activists back MPs democratic demand

Over 350 political activists, celebrated cultural figures and academics on Saturday backed the MPs democratic demands from the Guardian Council to declare null and void the extensive ban on applicants to run in the parliamentary elections, IRNA reported from Tehran.

About 115 incumbent MPs have gone on hunger strike from Saturday in protest against violation of the constitutional rights of the people through the wholesale ban on applicants.

The political activists declared their support to the MPs in a statement to the people calling the electoral ban 'illegal and extensive'.

"The illegal and extensive ban on the reformist and independent applicants enforced by the Supervisory Board and the public concern for violation of the Constitution and national security with sit-in protest by 115 MPs at the Nation's House is a turning point to prepare the ground for free and fair election," the statement said.

"Now that the MPs have gone ahead with hunger strike following their sit-in protest against the illegal decision, we will join them on Monday to demand free and fair election and nullification of the illegal ban," they said.

Khatami highlights importance of broad, free elections

Tehran, Jan 17, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here on Saturday declared that it is important to hold broad and free elections and fully observe the Constitution.

Speaking to senior officials in charge of legal and parliamentary affairs at the ministries, President Khatami said that necessary measures had been adopted to ensure high public turnout in the seventh Majlis elections.

He said, "It doesn't matter for whom people vote; people are the yardstick and we should respect their views and choice; and nobody can guide their votes into a special direction," said Khatami.

He hoped for high public turnout in the February 20 Majlis elections in an atmosphere of goodwill and understanding. Highlighting the significant role of the Majlis in passing

legislation and conducting supervision over performance of other executive organs, Khatami said cooperation between government and Majlis would forge stronger coordination between the executive and legislative branches and facilitate promotion of related affairs.

Mobalegh says he is ready to hold live debate with GC

Tehran, Jan 17, IRNA -- Head of the Elections Headquarters Morteza Mobalegh said on Saturday that he is ready to hold live debate with members of the Guardian Council and the Supervisory Board to prove that illegal action has taken place with the wholesale disqualification of applicants to run in parliament elections.

Speaking at a press conference at the Interior Ministry, he called on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) to arrange a live debate with Guardian Council members to ease the public misgivings about the electoral disqualifications.

He said that about 46 million people are eligible to vote in February 20 election. Of course, since most probably election will not be held in Bam, the figure may drop to below 46 million, Mobalegh said.

"The Interior Ministry has acknowledged to the Guardian Council that holding election in Bam is impossible. So it will not be held there if they accept," he said.

He said that about seven million youngsters will become eligible to vote for the first time on February 20.

Mobalegh expressed concern that the Guardian Council and the Supervisory Board do not deal will the Interior Ministry in a transparent manner creating doubt about the process of holding the general election.

Governors of Tehran province resign

Tehran, Jan 17, IRNA -- Governors of the constituencies in Tehran province resigned on Saturday in protest at the Guardian Council's extensive ban on applicants to run for parliament seat.

Tehran governor general has yet to accept the mass resignation.

... Payvand News - 1/17/04 ... --

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