First Published: 2004-02-03

 
'Important meeting' imminent on Iran crisis
 

Iranian authorities ban first planned student demonstration against barring of reformist election candidates.

 

Middle East Online

The announcement came from Mohammad Reza Khatami

TEHRAN - The head of Iran's leading reformist party said on Tuesday an "important meeting" would soon be held, feeding speculation that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could intervene in the political crisis over the February 20 parliamentary elections.

The student agency ISNA reported that Mohammad Reza Khatami, leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), announced the meeting after having talks with his brother President Mohammad Khatami and parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karoubi. He did not say whom the meeting would involve.

Another agency, the semi-official Ilna which is close to the reformist movement, said the two men would soon meet Iran's supreme leader.

At the weekend, referring to the impasse between conservatives and reformists over the elections and facing the resignation of 125 MPs, Karoubi had urged Khamenei to intervene.

Iran, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic, plunged into crisis on January 11 when the conservative Guardians Council vetting body barred some 3,500 would-be candidates out of around 8,000. Most were reformists, banned for an alleged lack of respect for Islam and the constitution.

Subsequently, the Council - ordered to carry out a review by Khamenei - reinstated 1,160 in a drawn-out appeals process, but some 80 sitting MPs, prominent pro-reform figures and allies of the embattled president remained barred.

Reformists, who believe they will lose their control of parliament and the government if the elections go ahead on February 20, want them postponed. The conservatives say they must proceed as planned.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, whose party said Monday it would boycott the elections, said he and Karoubi met some of the rebellious MPs on Tuesday. The MPs urged them to keep up their refusal to go along with a February 20 poll. They had also again demanded that barred candidates be allowed to stand, saying they had been rejected "illegally".

President Khatami and the government have not specifically said they would not organise elections on February 20. "This government will only organise elections which are free, fair and open," the president said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities have banned the first planned student protest against the wholesale barring of reformist election candidates, ISNA said Tuesday, quoting the Tehran governor's office.

"No gathering will be allowed outside the entrance of Tehran university," the agency quoted Ali Taala, director of political and security affairs for the Tehran region as saying.

"No authorisation for a rally at that spot has been issued for several years because of traffic problems in the district," he added, implying that a demonstration could be organised in other circumstances.

The pro-democracy Islamic Association of Tehran's branches in the main and medical universities said Sunday they had requested a permit to stage a gathering at the gate of the capital's main campus on Wednesday.

So far students, a driving force behind the embattled reformist movement, have largely kept out of the three-week-old political crisis sparked by powerful conservatives who have disqualified large numbers of reformists from contesting the February 20 elections.

Last week, Iran's main pro-democracy student movement - the Office to Consolidate Unity (OCU) - called for a nationwide boycott of the polls and demanded a referendum on the country's political future.

Last summer, students sparked a nationwide security crackdown when they led anti-regime protests. Since deadly street riots in 1999, authorities have tried to keep student protestors confined to their campuses.

 

Turkey sends more tanks into Syria to bolster military offensive

Tunisia swears in new premier after approval from parliament

Turkey arrests former top diplomats over failed coup

Yemen shelling kills three-year-old boy in Saudi border region

In Egypt, ecstatic pilgrims leave to perform hajj

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

French court suspends burkini ban

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Iran yet to decide on OPEC limits

Iraq forces advance south of Mosul

Muslim women say swimsuit uproar is 'absurd'

Gaza animals leave 'world's worst' zoo

Hasakeh: key flashpoint for Syria regime, Kurds