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Guardian Council overturns result, raises fear of demonstrations

TEHRAN, Iran, June 9, 2000 (AFP) - Iran's polls watchdog has overturned the election of a reformist candidate in favour of his conservative rival in a southwestern city, raising fears of protest demonstrations, the official news agency IRNA said Friday. The Guardians Council, which is overwhelmingly conservative, quashed the election of Rahman Karghosha in the industrial city of Arak because of numerous complaints and discrepancies in the ballots, IRNA said.

The council declared Hassan Moradi elected instead, the agency added.

Mohammad-Ali Purkarimi, the local representative of the interior ministry, who was responsible for the election in Arak, expressed surprise at the move.

IRNA quoted him as saying that many people had contacted the local authorities to express their discontent.

Purkarimi called on the people to keep calm and refrain from actions against order and security, adding that political groups had been asked to use their influence in this respect.

The quashing of certain results after the first round of the parliamentary elections of February 18 gave rise to violent demonstrations and clashes in northwestern and southwestern constituencies and in the Tehran area.

A number of results are still awaiting confirmation, and the Guardians have ordered some other polls to be rerun.

The new parliament took office on May 27 with 263 of the 290 seats declared, of which 210 were occupied by reformist supporters of President Mohammad Khatami.