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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Voting starts in Iran's parliamentary elections 2008-03-14 13:28:16  

    TEHRAN, March 14 (Xinhua) --

Iranians on Friday began voting in the country's eighth parliamentary elections in which conservatives are expected to retain their control of the legislature.

    The polling stations opened at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT) Friday morning and were due to close at 6:00 p.m. (1430 GMT). But the deadline would be extended if there is heavy turnout, the state television reported.

    According to Iranian Interior Ministry figures, about 4,500 candidates have been cleared to compete for the 290-seat legislature.

    Over 45,000 polling stations have been set up in 207 constituencies for people to elect representatives to the parliament, according to the official IRNA news agency.

    The results of the parliamentary elections will be announced in3 to 4 days, Iran's Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi told the state-run English-language Press TV channel.

    The minister said that there are supervisory board, execution elements and special inspectors in every polling station to monitor the election process.

    "The candidate also can introduce representatives to the polling stations to supervise the process," he said.

    The electoral committee has engaged all of these supervisory bodies to maintain the security of the polls and assure free and fair elections, Pour-Mohammadi added.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was among the first to participate in the voting on Friday morning, urged the Iranian people to cast their ballots and asked the candidates to fulfill their campaign promises.

    "This election plays a very important role for our country," Khamenei was quoted by the state television as saying. "The Iranian people can decide their fate through this election."

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cast his vote upon arrival from Dakar, Senegal, where he attended the 11th Summit of Organization of the Islamic Conference, said Friday's parliamentary election was a "great national test" to demonstrate the people's views.

    The Iranian nation always "goes after truth" and this attitude is the key to progress and success, Ahmadinejad said, adding that everyone is aware of the significance of the elections in taking decisive positive actions for the country.

    Iran's Expediency Council Chairman and former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was also among the first to cast his ballot early Friday, IRNA reported.

    Speaking to reporters after casting vote at Imam Khomeini Mosque in northern Tehran, Rafsanjani said participation in the elections is a national and Islamic duty to all Iranian people.

    "Formation of a good and active Majlis (parliament) will make the enemies disappointed," he said. "The enemies want the Iranian people not to attend the elections in order to prove that there is no democracy in the Islamic Republic."

    The people will be victorious through formation of a powerful and effective parliament, Rafsanjani said.

    Over the past weeks, Iranian leaders have called for a high turnout in the elections to show Western countries that the Islamic Republic is unified at a time of mounting tensions over its disputed nuclear program.

Editor: Du Guodong


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