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Key Group Threatening To Boycott Iranian Elections

Tehran, 19 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say the political party of reformist President Mohammad Khatami has threatened to boycott upcoming elections unless urgent steps are taken to reverse the rejection of reformist candidates.

In a statement carried by the students' news agency ISNA, the Militant Clerics Association issued a statement saying that "if urgent measures" are not taken to settle the current problem "there is no further reason for the association to take part in the parliamentary election."

The statement was issued after a meeting of the party yesterday, attended by both the president and the speaker of the Majlis, or parliament, Mehdi Karoubi, who is also a member.

Iran has been thrown into crisis since the powerful Guardians Council, a conservative-dominated body, announced that it was barring a large number of reformist candidates from standing in the election, which is due to take place next month.