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Iran Said To Ban Activities Of Largest Reformist Party

The party has ties to former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's judiciary has banned the activities of a leading reformist party, the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted an official as saying, in a further attempt to end the reform movement in the Islamic state.

Interior Ministry's political deputy Solat Mortazavi said Iran's judiciary had banned the activities of the Islamic Iran's Participation Front, the largest pro-reform party in Iran, and had "closed down its office," ISNA reported.

The party, close to reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, had been scheduled to hold its annual meeting on March 11.

But the party said in a statement it had been banned from holding the meeting and called it "an illegal act and a clear example of taking citizens' fundamental rights away," the opposition Norooznews website reported.

Hundreds of reformists have been detained and put on trial in a crackdown on the pro-reform opposition after Iran's disputed June presidential election which was followed by the biggest unrest the 31-year-old Islamic Republic has seen.

The opposition says the vote was rigged to secure the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The authorities deny the charge of vote fraud and say it was the healthiest election the country has had in three decades.

In July, the Islamic Iran's Participation Front said the election had been a "coup d'etat" that harmed the legitimacy of the Islamic establishment.

The vote plunged the Islamic Republic into deep political turmoil and was followed by huge street protests.

A crackdown on the opposition is expected on March 16 when Iranians hold traditional celebrations ahead of the country's New Year which starts on March 21.

Police officials have strongly warned the opposition against using the occasion to organize fresh protests and have said they will keep anyone arrested on that day until the end of the Iranian New Year holidays.

Most of those detained after the election have since been released, though more than 80 people have received jail sentences of up to 15 years.

Two people who were put on trial after the election have been executed.