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.

 

Heavy fighting shakes eastern Aleppo as army advances

Yemen prepares assault on Iran backed rebels near key strait

Palestinian Fatah conference ends with boost for Abbas

Nigeria and Morocco agree joint venture to link Africa to Europe

Blocked news website accuses Qatar government of censorship

First buses take Aleppo residents back to ruined homes

Kurdish restrictions cause ‘unnecessary harm’ to Iraq Yazidis

Egypt court strikes down part of protest law

Syria army advances deeper into east Aleppo

US rules out military intervention in Libya

Saudi Arabia names new Labour Minister, reshuffles councils

Eight arrested in Morocco over alleged ties with IS

Syria regime seizes half of rebel parts of Aleppo

Europol warns of changing IS tactics

Palestinian contenders for Fatah posts set to declare

Protests erupt in Istanbul over ‘Aleppo massacre’

Aleppo family reunited after war kept them apart for months

Syria rebels put up fight for key Aleppo district

Obama unlikely to act on Israel-Palestine before leaving office

UN says torture 'widespread' after Turkey coup

International push aims to protect endangered heritage

Journalist's body found shot in Iraq’s Kurdish region

Iran urges Kenya to release two of its citizens

Morocco business diplomacy at heart of strategy to rejoin African Union

Turkish prosecutor calls for drop of Gaza ship charges against Israelis

Iran preparing ‘appropriate’ response to US sanctions renewal

Saudi government detects fresh hacking attempts

Qarawiyyin library holds written wonders

Putin getting admirers from US to Europe to Syria

Congress approves Iran sanctions extension

Staggering casualty toll in Mosul offensive

Pentagon says IS jihadists making 'last stand' in Sirte

Iraq faces post-IS problem in Shiite militias

Turkey detains business executive for alleged Gulen links

Putin says Russia not looking for enemies

Tunisia sentences protesters to 14 years in jail

Saudi increases jail term for rights activist to 11 years

Misery deepens for Mosul refugees with heavy rain

Turkish parliament to vote on bill expanding Erdogan’s power

UN envoy to Yemen, President meet in new peace bid

Syrian Grand Mufti rejects terrorism claims

Qatar blocks popular news website

Desperate civilians brave Aleppo front line

OPEC spares Iran oil production cuts

Minister says Abbas is Israel's top 'ideological' foe