A conservative Iranian election watchdog said Sunday there had been significant fraud at Tehran polling stations, casting doubt on the reform victory in the capital in February's parliementary elections.
The Council of Guardians, cited by state television, said there were numerous irregularities at nearly 90 percent of the polling stations it had checked so far during an unprecedented third recount of the vote.
Iranian news agency (IRNA) quoted a statement by the body indicating that in Tehran constituency, ''the recounting of votes in Tehran is continuing and as the process progresses, more vote-rigging comes to surface.''
As an example, it said the results of vote recounting in 577 ballot boxes showed a 10 percent difference with the results already announced. The statement also said that in a case 1,022 votes for a candidate had been ignored while in another 977 extra votes had been counted for another candidate.
Reformers have speculated the conservative council might annul the vote in the capital altogether in a bid to undermine the reform camp.
The Islamic Iran Participation Front, the largest reform party led by President Mohammad Khatami's brother Mohammad-Reza, said it had no-one available to give an immediate comment.
The report comes just a day after pro-Khatami reformers trounced their conservative rivals in a second-round run-off, securing their large majority when the legislature takes office at the end of the month.
The crucial February vote ended the longstanding right-wing majority in parliament, but since then conservatives have put fierce pressure on the reform camp, closing almost all of the pro-Khatami press.
More than two months after the election, the council has yet to validate the results in Tehran, the centre of the nation's political life where reformers won 29 of the 30 seats at stake as they swept to victory in the February polls.
Mohammad-Reza Khatami, the top vote-getter in Tehran, said in Saturday's press that he believed the Council would "act within the framework of the law" and validate the results.
"Our differences with the Council of Guardians notwithstanding, we trust them completely," he said - (Agencies).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)