Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and pro-reform politicians have vowed to challenge the conservative Guardians Council's decision to disqualify a large number of liberal candidates from contesting next month's parliamentary elections.
More than 60 reformist lawmakers staged an all-night sit-in at the Majlis parliament building in protest of the election bans, which affect pro-reform candidates for office as well as more than 80 sitting lawmakers, including Khatami's brother.
President Khatami said he did not view the disqualifications as compatible with the principles of religious democracy and said he would hold talks on the crisis with the unelected members of the Guardians Council and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Khatami has appealed for calm and called for the use of legal ways to fight the disqualifications. The Interior Ministry, controlled by reformers, called the bans illegal and said they would not be enforced.
Some politicians described the disqualifications as an attempted power grab by conservatives and have threatened a boycott of the 20 February elections due to the actions of the Guardians Council, the body which checks all legislation and candidates to ensure compliance with Islamic law and the constitution.