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Iranian Lawmakers Vow to Continue Protest - 2004-01-15

Defiant members of the Iranian parliament say they will continue their sit-in protest against the disqualification of mostly reformist candidates from next month's parliamentary elections. The lawmakers are unimpressed by Iran's supreme leader's effort to defuse the crisis.

Dozens of members of Iran's parliament, including the brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, say their sit-in will continue until their demands for free, fair and legal elections are met.

The lawmakers are seeking a reversal of this week's decision by the hard-line conservative Guardian Council to disqualify almost half of the more than 8,000 mostly reformist candidates for next month's parliamentary elections.

Late Wednesday, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the Council to review its decision. He said candidates should only be barred if there is adequate proof they are not qualified.

The Council has the authority to veto legislation approved by parliament and screens all candidates for public office.

More than 80 current members of parliament were among those barred from next month's election, including deputy speaker, Mohammad Reza Khatami, who is the younger brother of President Mohammad Khatami.