Mass resignations in Iranian parliament

More than 40 per cent of the Iranian parliament resigned yesterday in a dramatic gesture intended to force the clerical hierarchy to reinstate thousands of liberal candidates disqualified from the coming elections.

The mass resignation "will determine Iran's direction: rule of absolute dictatorship or democracy", reformist lawmaker Mohammad Kianoush-Rad said.

Reformists say the council disqualified liberal candidates in order to fix the election in favour of conservatives. The council denies political motives and argues the disqualified lacked the criteria to stand. But more than 80 of the disqualified were voted in at the 2000 elections. On Sunday they resigned.

"An election whose result is clear beforehand is a treason to the rights and ideals of the nation," one of the resigning legislators, Rajab Ali Mazrouei, told the parliament.

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