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Iranian Hard-Liners Reject Delay Of Parliamentary Vote

Tehran, 2 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's conservative Guardians Council today rejected a demand by the government to postpone the parliamentary elections scheduled for 20 February.

Council member Reza Zavarehi said that elections in Iran could be postponed only in case of war or foreign occupation.

Last night, Iran's cabinet asked to reschedule the elections unless all the conditions for free and fair polls are in place. The crisis intensified after about 120 current parliament members resigned yesterday following the resignation of provincial governors, charged with organizing the elections.

A Guardians Council official, Ahmad Azimizadeh, today warned the resigned politicians of possible prosecution.

The council acts as an unelected upper house and consists of six hard-line clerics and six jurists. Liberal Iranian politicians oppose the decision of the Guardians Council to bar about 2,500 candidates including around 80 sitting deputies from participating in the elections.