Iranian Hardliners Try to Squelch Criticism of Election Results
Iranian hardliners, stung by the confirmed victory of reformist candidates, shut down a newly launched newspaper Tuesday, the 19th paper closed in a crackdown that began last month, AP reported.
State-run radio also warned newspapers that questioning the results of recent parliamentary elections could lead to prosecution, as the feud between reformers and hard-liners over alleged vote tampering deepened in Iran, the agency added.
The Mellat daily was banned by the judiciary for "violating press laws," a day after printing its maiden issue Monday, according to Saeed Mortazavi, a judge who ordered the daily's closure.
In the Feb. 18 polls, reformist allies of President Mohammad Khatami won about three-quarters of the 290 seats, seizing control of the powerful parliament from hard-liners for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Since the election, the hard-line crackdown has muted the opposition, AP said.
The Guardian Council, a panel dominated by hard-liners that supervises elections, then threatened to annul the key election results in Tehran, where an initial count indicated reformers won 29 of the 30 votes, said AP.
The council on Saturday finally endorsed the Tehran results under pressure from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but confirmed only 26 reformist victories.
It gave two seats to hard-liners, including one to former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, and annulled two other reformist victories.
The council alleged widespread ballot fraud and has threatened to prosecute Interior Ministry officials; the ministry and council jointly handled the initial vote count - Albawaba.com
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