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Polls Close in Iranian Parliamentary Elections - 2004-02-21


Voting has ended in Iran's parliamentary election, where conservatives are all but guaranteed to regain a majority after mass disqualifications of reformist candidates.

The country's more than 40,000 polls closed at 10 PM local time, after the Interior Ministry allowed a four hour extension to allow as many people to vote as possible.

It was not immediately clear how many voters heeded a call from reformists to boycott the election to protest the disqualifications. Iranian state media reported large turn-outs at the polls, but foreign journalists reported more mixed results.

Conservatives, led by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged Iran's 46 million eligible voters over age 15 to turn out in force if they were loyal to Islam and the nation.

The U.S. State Department said the candidate disqualifiactions and other pro-reform crackdowns were cause for concern. Spokesman Adam Ereli says the election was not free and fair and was not consistent with international norms.

Initial results could come as early as Saturday, but official results are not expected until next week.

Voters cast ballots for 289 of parliament's 290 seats.

Information for this report is provided by Reuters and AP.

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