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IRAN - Dec 6 - Khamenei Views Ignored - Khatami.

Speaking to students at Tehran university Pres Mohammad Khatami says Tehran's constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council, ignored the views of Ayat Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, when it disqualified more than 2,000 reformist candidates during February's parliamentary elections. Khatami said Khamenei had reacted "positively" to his view that widespread disqualifications would make the elections unfair. This is the first time Khatami has revealed Khamenei's sympathy with his own opinion about the elections, which produced a rightwing majority after the Guardian Council upheld the disqualifications. Khatami said: We were asked [by the leader] to write down our conditions [for fair elections]. The leader's view was positive. Unfortunately, the Guardian Council did not take into consideration even the leader's view". Khatami's comments come ahead of presidential elections due next May or June. Although Khatami is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, he may be seeking to rally opinion against any further attempt by the Guardian Council to disqualify reformist candidates before then. But Khatami was on sensitive ground in suggesting the Guardian Council had gone against the wishes of Khamenei. As supreme leader, Khamenei is the linchpin of the Iranian constitutional system of velayat-e faqih (rule of the jurist) and held to be above partisan politics. On the eve of February's election, two reformist newspapers were closed for publishing extracts from a letter from parliamentary deputies implying Ayat Khamenei backed the anti-reformist cause. During the election, Khatami shied away from confrontation by distancing himself from a sit-in of disqualified deputies and from reformist officials who wanted either to list disqualified candidates on ballot papers or refuse to administer the election. Khatami continued his political balancing act yesterday in defending his call in February for a high turnout, even after the Guardian Council upheld most of the disqualifications. "We reached a point [of choosing between] holding elections or [risking] unrest and tension in the country. I did not see it expedient at all for such a thing to happen".
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Title Annotation:Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; Mohammad Khatami
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Dec 11, 2004
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