Sunday, January 02, 2005

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Iran Council Sets June 17 as Election Day

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Iran Council Sets June 17 as Election Day: "Iran Council Sets June 17 as Election Day
By REUTERS

Published: January 2, 2005


EHRAN, Jan. 1 (Reuters) - Iran's legislative watchdog, the Guardian Council, on Saturday set June 17 as the date for presidential elections, which are expected to result in the final defeat of the reform movement led by President Mohammad Khatami, a goal long sought by conservative clerics.

The Guardian Council had already rejected proposed election dates in May.

Mr. Khatami, a reformist, was elected by a landslide in 1997 and again in 2001. But his popularity fell as people grew disillusioned with his inability to push through reforms against clerical resistance.

Mr. Khatami, who cannot run for a third successive term, came to power promising political, social and economic change, but conservative clerics frustrated his efforts.

Conservatives trounced reformists in parliamentary elections last February after the council banned thousands of reformist candidates, including many members of Parliament, on the ground that they did not meet its moral standards.

There has been heated speculation about who will now run for the presidency, and the influential former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, regarded as a pragmatic conservative, has indicated that he might run if he gets enough high-level backing.

Several parties are backing a comeback by Mr. Rafsanjani, whose presidency from 1989 to 1997 was marked by modest social reform."