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Unfairly Excluded Candidates Must Be Reinstated, says Iranian President


Iran's reformist president says all candidates who were unfairly excluded from next month's parliamentary elections must be reinstated. But Mohammad Khatami says he still hopes the political row with the conservatives can be settled in time.

Iran's president Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday he hopes the dispute between conservatives and reformists can be settled, but warned he will not accept a single unfair disqualification.

The reformist president also vowed he won't resign over the political crisis, which erupted some two weeks ago when the hard-line Guardian Council banned more than a third of the mostly liberal candidates from next month's parliamentary election. Iran's state news agency reported Wednesday that the Guardian Council has reinstated more than 600 of the 3,600 candidates so far.

President Khatami said he expects several hundred more candidates to be reinstated Wednesday. The Guardian Council, made up of 12 appointed Islamic clerics and jurists, was ordered to review its disqualifications by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

President Khatami says he is doing everything he can to make sure the February 20 parliamentary elections take place as scheduled and are free, fair and competitive.

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