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Iran's Supreme Leader Wants Parliament That Resists 'Foreign Influence'

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that he is confident Iranians will vote in this week's elections for a parliament that will resist the influence of foreign powers -- including the United States.

In a message posted to his website on February 24 ahead of the February 26 elections, Khamenei said Iranians "will vote for a parliament that puts Iran's dignity and independence first, and stands up to foreign powers whose influence on Iran has been removed."

INFOGRAPHIC: How Iran Is Ruled (click image)

The vote is seen as a showdown between hard-liners and moderate reformists.

The moderates hope to boost their parliamentary presence in the wake of a nuclear deal with world powers and the lifting of international sanctions.

Iran's Guardians Council, a vetting body made up of conservative clerics and jurists, disqualified thousands of mostly moderate and reformist parliamentary candidates in January -- including four-fifths of the candidates for the body that will choose Iran's next supreme leader.

That decision sparked a dispute between hard-line conservatives and reformist factions.

But on February 6, the Guardians Council reversed its ban on 1,500 of those candidates.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and IRNA