The final results of February's parliamentary elections in Tehran will be announced Saturday at the latest, the Iranian election watchdog body said Thursday, reported by Iranian state radio.
The conservative-dominated Council of Guardians, which has to confirm all election results, said it was responding to an "express request" by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"We shall announce the Tehran results between now and Saturday," the council said in a statement quoted by the radio, describing Khamenei's request as arbitration to unblock the issue of the Tehran seats.
Earlier Thursday the council said it was not in a position to validate the results, because of "numerous irregularities" it had found in the voting, state radio announced.
It sent a letter to Khamenei, saying there had been "numerous cases of fraud and irregularities" in the ballot boxes.
"Given this, we cannot confirm the validity of the results of the Tehran elections," the twelve council members said in their letter, read out on the radio.
However, Khamenei responded by asking them "to announce the definitive Tehran results taking the present state of affairs into account."
He called on the judicial system "to put those responsible for the electoral irregularities on trial," the radio said, without elaborating.
Initial results from Tehran, provided by the interior ministry immediately after the elections, gave 29 out of the 30 seats to reformists close to President Mohammad Khatami.
However, the council subsequently ordered several recounts, overriding ministry objections, and has already let two dates pass on which it had undertaken to give the final results.
Earlier Thursday the council endorsed the results of 28 seats at stake in the second round of elections held May 5, confirming the sweeping success of reformists in overturning the conservative majority in the outgoing parliament.
Although Thursday's announcement covered fewer than half of the total 66 seats contested in the run-off round, it gave the new 290-seat parliament the quorum it needs to begin work as scheduled at the end of next week.
But reformists fear the council's failure at the same time to announce its validation of the Tehran seats mean it will still order a complete new election in the capital as one more conservative tactic to hamper them.
The stars of the reformist movement, including Khatami's brother Mohammad-Reza, stood in Tehran and the new parliament can ill afford being deprived of them even temporarily – TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)