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Several Iranian Officials Resign in Political Crisis - 2004-01-21


Several of Iran's ministers and vice presidents have handed in their resignations and are ready to quit. The move comes a day after the conservative Guardian Council announced it would reinstate a small portion of the candidates it barred from participating in the coming election.

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi says several top-ranking government officials are now prepared to step down.

Mr. Abtahi said a number of ministers and vice presidents have submitted their resignations. But he added that they will wait until the Guardian Council completes it review process before officially leaving office.

Mr. Abtahi acknowledged the political crisis could still be averted if the Guardian Council follows the advice of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Last week, the ayatollah called on the hard-line group of 12 unelected Islamic clerics and lawyers to thoroughly review its decision, which banned thousands of mostly reformist candidates from participating in February's election.

On Tuesday, the Guardian Council announced it would reinstate 200 of the more than 3,600 disqualified candidates. It also pledged to speed up the review process.

The names of the cabinet members who handed in their resignations were not immediately released.

Mr. Abtahi hinted that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami may join the walkout.

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