ISLAMIC IRAN PARTICIPATION FRONT OFFICE SEALED OFF

TEHRAN, 19 Feb. (IPS) The office of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Iran’s largest political formation that controlled the outgoing Parliament was sealed on orders from the Judiciary, it was learned late Thursday night.

The move, on the eve of the controversial elections, was expected, as the Judiciary, which is controlled by the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, had on Wednesday night shut down the party’s official organ Yas e No as well as the reformist daily Sharq.

Mr. Ali Shakkoori-Raad, an outspoken reformist lawmaker barred by the leader-controlled Council of the Guardians to run in the Friday elections with some eighty other colleagues, including Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the badly lamed President Mohammad Khatami, confirmed the information, but did not say on what charges the office was sealed.

The younger Khatami, who is the Majles’ first deputy-Speaker and the leader of the IIPF had announced that in protest to the CG’s decision to disqualify most of the 2.300 reformist candidates, his movement as well as some other reformist groups would walk away from the race.

Mr Khameneh’i and other senior orthodox ayatollahs, afraid of massive abstention, had ruled that going to the polls was a "religious duty".

Analysts said this and more important, an open letter more than a hundred disqualified lawmakers had wrote to the leader, accusing him indirectly for the mass rejection of reformist hopefuls could be the reason for Ayatollah Khameneh'i ordering the Judiciary to shut down the Party.

The Judiciary had also ordered Internet Service Providers to seriously filter three pro-reform internet sites, including Rooydad that belongs to the IIPF, Emrooz and Peyknet, making them difficult for Iranians inside the country to read them.

The Paris-based Reporter Sans Frontieres and the Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad immediately denounced Thursday the Judiciary's decision to close the two newspapers and impose filter on the websites and urged Mr. Khameneh'i to revise the ban on all Iranian press shut down on his orders.

RSF has "awarded" the Iranian leader as the "world's most dangerous predator of press freedom". ENDS IIPF SEALED OFF 19204