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Iran's Interior Minister Requests Election Postponement - 2004-01-30

Iran's Interior Minister has asked for the postponement of parliamentary election scheduled for February 20. The minister's request comes a day after all of Iran's 28 provincial governors called for the election to be delayed, saying there is not enough time to guarantee that it will be free and fair.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, who is in charge of elections, sent his request to the secretary of the hard-line Guardian Council.

According to Iran's state news agency, the minister urged the Guardian Council to allow itself enough time to review each of the 3,600 candidates it banned from running in the election.

The unelected oversight group, made up of 12 conservative clerics and judges sparked a political crisis in Iran when it rejected nearly half of the candidates who wanted to run in next month's election, including more than 80 current members of parliament. Most of the rejected candidates are reformers.

A Guardian Council spokesman told Iran's state television on Thursday that some 860 candidates have been reinstated, and said the council had reviewed more than 90 percent of the cases before it.

The massive candidate ban led many reformist members of parliament to hold an ongoing sit-in protest. Dozens of senior government officials have pledged to resign if the candidates are not reinstated.

On Thursday, Iran's 28 provincial governors also called for the election to be postponed. They are among the officials who have threatened to resign.

The elections are just three weeks away. Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami said earlier this week that he will not accept a single unfair disqualification. President Khatami has refused to accept the resignations offered by his colleagues, saying he is hopeful that the election will be both fair and on time.