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More protests as seventh reformer has election overturned

TEHRAN, Iran, April 8, 2000 (AFP) - Protests broke out in Iran for a second day after a conservative council overturned the election of another reformist MP-elect, bringing the total to seven, the Iranian news agency said Saturday.

The demonstration Friday in Tehran province came a day after angry voters went on the rampage in the northwestern city of Khalkhal after the council cancelled the election of a reformist and handed the seat to a conservative.

Some 500 people in Damavand, just northwest of the capital, took to the streets after the watchdog Council of Guardians cancelled local results from February's parliamentary elections, IRNA said.

It did not give word on any incidents in the protest after the council cited "irregularities" in annulling the election of Mostafa Khanzadi in the polls.

Authorities were forced to call in army and law enforcement units in Khalkhal the night before after residents ransacked government offices and set vehicles alight after the election of a local reformist there was overturned.

The council instead declared that his conservative opponent had won the seat.

Seven reformists behind President Mohammad Khatami have now seen the council -- which also blocked many reformers from standing in the polls -- overturn their election. The council overturned the other five last month.
Reformers trounced conservatives at the polls, winning 189 of the 226 seats decided in the first round and giving Khatami a long-sought majority in parliament, which had frequently stymied his social and political reforms.

The cancellations are expected to be contested along with the other 64 open slots in the 290-seat legislature in a second round run-off for those districts where no candidate captured at least 25 percent of the popular vote.