Iran to hold runoff parliamentary vote

By REUTERS
March 5, 2012 17:43

 
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TEHRAN, March 5 (Reuters) - Iran will hold run-off elections for 65 parliamentary seats, state media said on Monday, after loyalists to the country's paramount clerical leader won a dominating majority at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad's allies in the 290-seat assembly is expected to reduce the president to a lame duck for the rest of his second and final term, and increase Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's influence in the country's 2013 presidential election.

Khamenei swiftly endorsed Ahmadinejad's re-election in 2009, rejecting opposition allegations of widespread fraud that led to eight months of unrest crushed bloodily by security forces.

But a rift opened between the two leaders after, according to critics of Ahmadinejad, the president attempted to undermine the leading political role of clergy in the Islamic Republic.

With all ballot boxes counted, Khamenei acolytes were expected to occupy more than three-quarters of the 290 seats in the Majlis (parliament), according to a list published by the interior ministry on Sunday.

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