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Iran says it bans key opposition party

Associated Press / March 16, 2010

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TEHRAN — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government said yesterday it has banned Iran’s largest pro-reform political party in a new strike against an opposition movement that has largely been swept from the streets since last year’s postelection turmoil.

Keeping the pressure on elsewhere, dozens of government-supporters descended on the home of Mahdi Karroubi, one of the main opposition leaders, on Sunday night, shouting slogans and vandalizing property.

Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June ignited Iran’s opposition, first in challenging the legitimacy of the official results and then in confronting the entire ruling system for supporting him and killing protesters.

Besides the crackdown in the streets, authorities responded with a mass trial of pro-reform activists, restrictions on journalists, and a campaign to choke off hundreds of opposition websites.

Under the assault, opposition parties are already up against harassment, raids on offices, and the confiscation of documents and equipment. So it was not clear what additional effect yesterday’s announcement would have on the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Deputy Interior Minister Solat Mortazavi said the judiciary has stripped the party of its authorization to conduct political activity, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. The party disputed that, saying there was no such court ruling, though it was forced to cancel its annual meeting on March 11.