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Iranian Election Committee Head Threatens Resignation

Tehran, 17 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The head of Iran's election committee said today that next month's parliamentary poll will go ahead as planned but he hinted he would personally resign unless the disqualification of more than 3,000 pro-reform candidates is rescinded.

Election committee head Morteza Mobalagh, who is also the country's deputy interior minister, said he was striving to organize a fair and lawful poll. Hinting at the conservative Guardians Council's decision to ban nearly half of the 8,000 candidates from running, Mobalagh said that if a fair ballot was not permitted, he would be forced to resign.

Meantime, Iranian human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi said today that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami should make good on an earlier promise and step down if hard-liners continue to stall his reforms.

But Ebadi, speaking in Bombay, said she was optimistic that, in time, popular will would triumph against the hard-liners.