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.

 

US troops to return to Mideast

IS jihadists close in on Turkish border

Libya militants vow to continue ‘military operations’

Argentine President charges US could kill her

Syrian refugees try their luck in Latin America

Israel settlers forcefully occupy 25 homes in East Jerusalem

Gunmen wound Saudi policeman in Shiite village in Eastern Province

Erakat likens Netanyahu to leader of ‘Islamic State’

Voters to choose among 27 candidates in Tunisia presidential race

Iran offers military equipment to Lebanon army

Iran extends compulsory military service to 2 years

Frustration grows over Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

US-led air strikes pound ‘Islamic State’ near Syria border town

Britain plans action against extremism ‘in all its forms’

Vigilante groups terrorise Syria refugees in Lebanon

Kurd troops launch offensive on IS on three fronts

Balkans clamp down on jihadist recruitment

Indian PM warns US to repeat Iraq 'mistake' in Afghanistan

Israel PM warns Iran poses gravest threat to world

Kuwait strips 18 nationals of citizenship

Ahead of Tunisia elections, Ghannouchi appeals for US support

Israel deploys extra forces as two faiths mark major holy days

Egypt, Libya plunge in good governance rating

Saudi Arabia breaks silence on Huthi occupation of Yemen capital

Air strikes fail to halt advance of IS jihadists in Syria

Rival Libya factions meet for reconciliation talks

Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks ‘to resume’ by mid-October

HRW criticises human rights rollback under Erdogan

Syria's Nusra Front chief warns to transfer battle to West

Obama admits to making serious mistake: We underestimated ‘Islamic State’

Germany begins training Kurdish fighters from northern Iraq

Jordan takes ‘precautionary measures’ to secure borders

Egypt acquits 112 on charges of violating protest law

Shiite dissident dies in gun battle with Saudi security forces

Iraq forces repel IS attack on strategic town west of Baghdad

Russia raises suspicions about US ‘military interference’ in Syria

Yemen capital reels under control of Huthi rebels

Dubai Ruler: Victory over ‘Islamic State’ requires three bigger ingredients

Nusra Front threatens retaliation against coalition nations

Nusra Front urges Lebanon to negotiate for captive soldiers

Iran warns ‘Islamic State’: If you advance, we will attack!

Huthis settle score with Yemen national security apparatus

Egypt postpones verdict in murder case against Mubarak

US-led coalition expands campaign against ‘Islamic State’ in Syria

Yemen Shiite rebels urged to pull out of capital