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Partial results from Iran’s parliamentary elections show conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on course to take firm control of the 290-seat parliament, after winning in several constituencies.

Early returns from provincial towns show loyalist supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in the lead, and also show the president’s supporters are losing ground. Final results are not expected until next week.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar put the turnout in the polls at 64 percent.

Iran’s main opposition and reformist groups boycotted Friday’s election, the first since the disputed 2009 presidential vote. All candidates were cleared by the Guardian Council, a powerful group of Islamic experts and jurists who rule on constitutional issues.

The election will have little impact on Iran’s foreign or nuclear polices, but will strengthen Mr. Khamenei’s position ahead of next years presidential election.

Some 3,400 candidates ran for seats in the 290-member parliament. Among the candidates was Mr. Ahmadinejad’s sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, who failed to secure a seat in their hometown, Garmsar.

Iran’s Guardian Council said no outside organizations would be permitted to monitor the turnout or vote-counting process. Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei says the presence of international observers would be an “insult” to the Iranian people.

VOA

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