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Iranian Lawmakers Reject Khatami's Call To End Protest

Tehran, 14 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Reformist Iranian parliamentarians today rejected President Mohammad Khatami's call to end a four-day sit-in protest in parliament over a decision by hard-liners to bar thousands of candidates from next month's parliamentary elections.

Earlier, Khatami said the crisis could still be resolved through negotiations with the conservative Guardian Council.

Lawmakers today said they will continue their sit-in protest because they have not yet achieved their objective: forcing hard-liners to reverse their decision.

Khatami has warned that parliament has been "oppressed" by the Guardian Council, which has disqualified some 3,000 parliamentary candidates, including some 80 sitting lawmakers. He said the decision violates the country's right to free elections.