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Iran's Supreme Leader Says Election Date Must Be Kept

Tehran, 4 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has rejected reformist demands for a postponement of parliamentary elections scheduled for 20 February.

Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said after a cabinet meeting that Khamenei wants the polls to be held on the scheduled date.

Reformists are calling for a postponement due to a political crisis over a conservative government body's decision to disqualify more than 2,000 candidates from participating in the election.

But government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said today that the government hopes to solve the row by tomorrow afternoon allowing the elections to go ahead as planned.

Reformists have threatened to boycott the elections if they proceed as scheduled. More than 120 parliament members resigned on 1 February in protest at the disqualifications.