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Iranian Conservatives Strengthen Majority in Parliament

Iranian conservatives have strengthened their majority in parliament, after Friday's run-off vote for undecided seats in the legislature.

Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said Saturday conservatives have won 69 percent of the vote, or about 200 seats in parliament. He said reformist candidates have won about 50 seats (16 percent) and independents about 40 (14 percent).

All but three seats in the 290-member legislature have been decided after the two rounds of parliamentary elections.

Analysts say although conservatives hold a big majority in parliament, conservative rivals of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may present a challenge for him as the 2009 presidential election approaches.

Iran's cleric establishment disqualified hundreds of reformist candidates before the election, prompting the United States and the European Union to dismiss the vote as neither free nor fair.

Voters in Friday's run-off chose among candidates for 82 seats in the 290-member legislature. There was no clear winner of those seats in the first round of voting in March.

In the first round, conservative candidates won a nearly three-quarters majority, with 132 seats. Reformist candidates secured 31 seats, while independent candidates won the rest.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.