Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, right, and Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the founding father of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, pay their respects to the late revolutionary leader in Tehran Jan. 31.
updated 2/4/2004 5:08:41 AM ET 2004-02-04T10:08:41

Iran’s supreme leader has ordered a review of the candidates disqualified from legislative elections, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s move came a day after he was reported to have rejected a request by President Mohammad Khatami for the Feb. 20 elections to be postponed.

Spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Khamenei agreed to a review of the disqualifications in a meeting with Khatami on Tuesday.

“Considering the positive view taken by the supreme leader for a review of the disqualifications, we hope to achieve a final result as soon as possible that would allow us to hold an election with a huge turnout,” Ramezanzadeh told reporters.

His comment was the first in days that suggested the elections might go ahead as planned. Earlier this week, both the Cabinet and the leading reformist party in parliament said they would not support the holding of the polls with the existing disqualifications.

A hard-line body appointed by Khamenei, the Guardian Council, has disqualified more than 2,400 people, including 80 incumbent legislators, from the polls. The disqualifications have been widely protested as an attempt to fix the elections in favor of conservatives.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday who Khamenei had ordered to conduct the review. When the list of approved candidates was first announced in early January, it emerged that the Guardian Council had disqualified about 3,600 people of the 8,200 who filed papers to stand.

After protests, and an opinion from Khamenei, the council reinstated 1,160 low-profile names, but the major reformists — including the leaders of the Islamic Iran Participation Front — remained barred. Reformists rejected the reinstatements as cosmetic.

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