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Iran's Conservatives Win Large Share of Parliament Seats

By VOA News

Partial results in Iran's parliamentary elections indicate the country's conservatives have won a large share of seats in parliament.

Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi said Saturday conservative candidates have won more than 71 percent of the seats.

The European Union Sunday expressed concern about the elections, saying they were neither free nor fair. It said Iran's election procedures fell below international standards and did not allow for a truly competitive ballot.

The United States said the election was rigged because voters were not able to cast ballots for a full range of candidates.

Iran's Guardian Council banned hundreds of reformists from running, and the main reformist coalition fielded only about 100 candidates out of 4,500 overall.

But a coalition spokesman describes the elections as a success, saying that despite the restrictions, reformists have won 34 seats outright in the 290 seat parliament.

Government officials say more than 65 percent of Iran's 44 million eligible voters cast ballots in Friday's elections.

Of the two rival conservative groups, one is more closely linked to hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The other wants Iran to take a more practical approach to dealing with the West on its controversial nuclear program and could challenge Mr. Ahmadinejad on his handling of the economy. Iran's economy has suffered from high inflation and unemployment, along with fuel shortages.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 03/16/08 ... --

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