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Iranian President Said to Turn Down Resignations - 2004-01-27

A report in Tehran says Iran's reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, has turned down the resignation of several senior officials, frustrated by the disqualification of thousands of reformist general election candidates.

The Iranian news agency IRNA, a branch of the country's state media, said Monday Mr. Khatami replied to a letter from the officials and asked them to remain in their posts.

The report says the president vowed to insist on "the need to hold a free and fair election." The Iranian agency says Mr. Khatami has also complained that state radio and television are censoring his statements calling for a review of the disqualification of general election candidates.

Earlier this month, the Guardian Council banned thousands of mostly reformist candidates from running in next month's general elections, including at least 80 sitting legislators. It has since reinstated several hundred candidates in a review ordered by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The 12-member, conservative-dominated Council, an appointed group of Islamic clerics and jurists, has the power to review all candidates for public office in Iran and to overturn legislation.

On Sunday, the council vetoed legal amendments passed by parliament and aimed at weakening the council's control over Iran's election process.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.