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Iran's Provincial Governors Ask for Postponement of Election

Iran's 28 provincial governors have called on the government to postpone the February 20 parliamentary election, saying there is not enough time to ensure that the election will be fair.

In a letter to the ministry in charge of overseeing elections in Iran, the provincial governors said that a free and fair poll is impossible under the current conditions, and should be delayed.

The Guardian Council has reinstated some 600 of the more than 3,000 mostly reformist candidates it disqualified earlier this month. The council has until January 30 to complete its review of all the disqualified candidates.

The governors said the Council's reinstatement of some 20 percent of candidates is a positive step, but doesn't go far enough.

The 28 provincial governors are appointed by Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. They have already threatened to resign if the political crisis cannot be resolved.

Iran's latest election turmoil began earlier this month when the conservative Guardian Council, an oversight body of 12 Islamic clerics and lawyers, banned more than a third of the candidates from running in the February 20 elections. Most of the blacklisted candidates were reformists, and more than 80 were current members of parliament.

On Wednesday, President Khatami vowed not to accept a single unfair disqualification, but said he remains hopeful that the crisis will be resolved and that elections will be held on time.

In a related development, Iran's main pro-democracy student group issued a statement calling on voters to boycott the elections, saying they will not be free and fair.