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Guardians Council Hails 'Strong Turnout' In Iran Poll

Tehran, 21 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Iran's conservative Guardians Council today praised what it described as a "strong turnout" in yesterday's controversial parliamentary poll.

The Guardians Council said in a statement that the poll will transform parliament -- which has been dominated by reformists -- into a "powerful and efficient" body "guided by spirituality."

It remains unclear how many voters participated in the poll, and only scattered preliminary results have so far been released. But the election is widely expected to result in conservatives retaking control of the 290-member Majlis, or parliament, because the Guardians Council had barred more than 2,400 pro-reform candidates, claiming they either lacked loyalty to Islam or the constitution.

Reformist politicians called for a voter boycott to protest the disqualifications. Conservatives had campaigned for a large voter turnout to endorse the legitimacy of Iran's Islamic system.

Definitive results are not expected before tomorrow.