Iranians Vote again amid Political Tension

Published June 30th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Residents of the Iranian capital began voting again Friday in the second round of legislative polls, amid political tension after a spate of arrests against reformist lawyers and intellectuals. 

Four candidates, all reformers, are vying for two seats whose results were cancelled after the first round of voting February 18th, in which reformers received massive endorsement throughout the country and overturned a conservative majority in parliament in a major victory for President Mohammed Khatami. 

Polling stations, set up in schools and mosques, opened at 9 a.m. (0430 GMT) and are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. (1430 GMT). Turnout was expected to be low and the polling stations were practically empty in the early morning. 

One of the first to vote, however, was Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who cast his ballot at his Tehran home. 

Friday's vote will not change the new political balance in the country or the capital.  

In Tehran, 27 deputies, all reformers -- out of a total 30 seats attributed to the capital -- were finally endorsed last month by the official election body, the conservative-dominated Council of Guardians, which initially balked at the results and alleged widespread fraud. 

Among the four candidates running in Friday's ballot, two of whom are clergy, is Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, an adviser to President Khatami. Mohtashemi's newspaper Bayan was recently suspended, part of an ongoing government crackdown that over the past two months has closed more than a dozen publications, almost all of them allied with reformers - TEHRAN (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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