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Iranian President Urges Citizens To Vote

Tehran, 16 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian President Mohammad Khatami today urged Iranians to vote in the 20 February parliamentary elections. The official IRNA news agency quoted Khatami as saying even though people might not be able to vote for candidates they would like to vote for, they can still vote against those they don't want to win.

Earlier, Mehdi Karoubi, the pro-reform speaker of Iran's parliament, defended taking part in the parliamentary elections, which reformists say have been effectively rigged.

He admitted that the upcoming vote will be unfair because of mass disqualifications. But he said the "freeness" of the vote is a matter of debate, as people are free to vote if they want to, or not.

Some reformist parties are boycotting the election after the hard-line Guardians Council blacklisted some 2,500 candidates -- most of them reformists -- from standing in the poll.