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Iran's President Says Election Will Not Be Fair

Tehran, 7 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami says legislative elections due in two weeks' time will not be fair because of a conservative oversight body's decision to bar more than 2,000 candidates.

Iran's official IRNA news agency says Khatami and parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi have sent a joint letter to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to complain about the conservative Guardians Council's continuing disqualification of the candidates.

As a result, say Khatami and Karrubi in their letter, Iran's voters will have little motivation to come to the polls and will not have a chance to participate in a fair ballot.

But Khatami and Karrubi stopped short of calling for a postponement of the 20 February poll.

Iran's largest reformist party, headed by Khatami's brother, Mohammad Reza Khatami, has said it will boycott the election.