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DATE=2/11/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN ELECTIONS (L) NUMBER=2-259054 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians have rallied in cities across the country to mark the 21st anniversary of the Iranian revolution. V-O-A Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from our Middle East Bureau that this year's anniversary comes as campaigning begins for parliamentary elections next Friday (2/18). TEXT: Hundreds of thousands of people in Tehran Friday set aside political differences in the run-up to next week's elections and rallied in the capital's Freedom (Azadi) Square to renew their commitment to the Iranian revolution. Religious music played from speakers around the square and the crowd chanted slogans against America and Israel, recalling the turbulent months that marked the end of the Iranian monarchy and the formation of an Islamic state. President Mohammed Khatami told the crowd the Iranian revolution was a revolution of the youth, but he said it belongs to all Iranians. He urged them to turn out in large numbers to vote in next week's parliamentary elections, which are being viewed as a referendum on the president's program of social and political change. A one-week campaign began Thursday for the elections in which reformist factions backing the president are seeking to take control of Iran's parliament. The parliament has been dominated by religious conservatives who believe the reformist agenda will undermine the principles of the Iranian revolution. More than six thousand candidates are vying for the 290 seats in the assembly, or majlis. Several political blocks have presented lists of candidates. Virtually all advocate some degree of change, responding to widespread voter dissatisfaction over the economy and government inefficiency. /// OPT /// An estimated two-thirds of the voters are under the age of 25 years. They are credited with President Khatami's landslide victory in presidential elections nearly three years ago. During his campaign, President Khatami promised greater social and political freedoms and observers note he has delivered on some of the promises. However, his efforts have been resisted -- sometimes violently -- by conservatives who believe ultimate political power should remain in the hands of senior religious leaders. /// END OPT /// Nearly 600 primarily reformist candidates were disqualified by a vetting committee on the grounds of not respecting Islamic values or Iranian religious leaders. /// REST OPT /// Iranian officials have also reacted angrily to remarks by U-S officials who said they hope the elections will lead to improved relations. The supreme religious leader has called the remarks interference in Iran's internal affairs and urged a massive voter turnout next Friday. (Signed) NEB/SB/GE/LTD/JO 11-Feb-2000 09:32 AM EDT (11-Feb-2000 1432 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .