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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ahmadinejad Rivals Lead in Parliamentary Vote

VOA News March 03, 2012

Partial results Saturday from Iran's parliamentary elections show that conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appear on course to gain firm control of the 290-seat parliament, after winning in several constituencies across the country.

Early returns from provincial towns suggest that loyalist supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei are in the lead and that the president's supporters were losing ground in the legislative body.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar put the turnout in the polls at 64 percent.

Iran's main opposition and reformist groups boycotted Friday's election, the first since the disputed 2009 presidential vote. All candidates were cleared by the Guardian Council, a powerful group of Islamic experts and jurists that rules on constitutional issues.

The election will have little impact on Iran's foreign or nuclear polices, but will strengthen Mr. Khamenei's position ahead of next years presidential election.

Final results are not expected until next week.

Some 3,400 candidates ran for seats in the 290-member parliament. Among the candidates was Mr. Ahmadinejad's sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, who failed to secure a seat in their hometown, Garmsar.

Iran's Guardian Council said no outside organizations would be permitted to monitor the turnout or vote-counting process. Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said Thursday the presence of international observers would be an "insult" to the Iranian people.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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