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Iranian Lawmakers Spend Night In Parliament In Protest

Tehran, 13 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian reformist lawmakers spent a second night in parliament in a protest over the disqualification of some 3,000 liberal candidates for next month's elections to the Majlis, or parliament. Yesterday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he would intervene in the dispute if reformists and conservatives cannot resolve the crisis.

Pro-reform lawmakers have threatened to boycott the 20 February elections unless the disqualifications handed down by the conservative, unelected Guardian Council, the Islamic Republic's leading political oversight body, are reversed.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said on a visit to Tehran that the elections would not be credible unless the candidate bans were set aside. Solana said the EU wants Iran's electoral process to be clear and transparent.

U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the Bush administration opposes any interference in the electoral process and called on the Iranian government to reject attempts by the Guardian Council to shape the outcome of the polls.