Khatami allies ahead in election


Reformers close to the moderate President, Mr Mohammad Khatami, are on course to capture control of Tehran city council in Iran's first ever municipal elections, the interior ministry indicated yesterday.

Reformers are likely to win nine out of the capital's 15 seats, giving Mr Khatami's supporters a decisive victory over his conservative opponents, according to the latest results published by the ministry.

And in counts in the provinces, reformers appeared well-placed in all of the three-quarters of councils which had published some results by yesterday, giving them a solid power base from which to challenge the conservatives' domination of parliament in general elections next spring.

In the capital the leading members of the main reformist list headed by former vice-president Mr Abdollah Nuri were all leading their conservative opponents in Friday's landmark poll by wide margins, the ministry said.

Apart from Mr Nuri, a former interior minister impeached by the conservative parliament last year after allowing pro-Khatami demonstrations which led to clashes with hardliners, four other top aides of the president were also well ahead.

Sources close to the ministry said on Sunday that the candidates from the Freedom Movement of Iran (FMI) were "very well placed" and that one of them, a sociology professor, Mr Gholamabbas Tavassoli, seemed certain of election.

In the provinces, some re formers were about to win election in all of the 75 per cent of counts which had published results. In the historic capital of Isfahan, a Khatami stronghold, the majority of reformist candidates won with ease.

Iranian police arrested three doctors and two midwives for running an illegal abortion clinic at an abandoned hospital building in Tehran, the daily Iran reported yesterday. The arrests were made after a young woman died at the backstreet clinic following an abortion.