BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 16:17 GMT
Iran power struggle nears showdown
Khatami supporters
The bill is vital for Khatami's reforms to succeed
The Iranian Parliament has begun debating a controversial bill aimed at stripping conservative hardliners of some of their powers.

The move is being seen a showdown between the pro-reformist President, Mohammad Khatami, and his conservative rivals who have blocked his efforts to create a more open society.


If approved, all the infidels, former Marxists and non-Iranians with acquired Iranian nationality can enter parliament

Golam-Hossein Elham, Guardians Council
The bill would remove the 12-member Guardians Council's right to veto election candidates, which has previously kept some reformists out of power.

It comes a day after Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, pardoned the country's top jailed dissident, while another prominent reformist was arrested by the conservative-controlled courts.

The parliament is also preparing to debate a bill which would give the president powers to suspend court rulings viewed as unconstitutional.

The courts have recently clamped down on dozens of liberal newspapers and jailed a number of President Khatami's supporters.

Heated debate

Reformists are determined to see the bill limiting the Guardians Council's powers succeed and have threatened to seek a referendum if it is blocked.

President Mohammad Khatami
Hardliners and reformists have been locked in a power struggle

But members of the Guardians Council - a constitutional watchdog - are loathe to surrender their power easily.

"This bill is supported by anti-revolutionary elements, and if approved, all the infidels, former Marxists and non-Iranians with acquired Iranian nationality can enter parliament," Golam-Hossein Elham, head of the Guardians Council research centre, was quoted by the Iranian news agency Irna as saying.

Reformist deputies argued that parliament would no longer represent the will of the people if voters were robbed of the chance to select candidates of their choice.

"The legitimacy of the Islamic regime comes from the votes of its electorate, and that legitimacy must not be weakened," said deputy Majid Ansari.

Crisis brewing

Both bills are expected to pass easily through the reformist dominated parliament.

But then they have to be approved by the same Council of Guardians whose powers one of the bills seeks to reduce.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says that is likely to end in deadlock, with yet another body, the Expediency Council, eventually acting as arbiter.

If that process were to end in the bills being blocked or emasculated, a political crisis would ensue, with some reformists already threatening walk out of office.

If that is to be averted, our correspondent says, it may be up to Ayatollah Khamenei to intervene, since his word is final on matters affecting the fate of the nation and the survival of the Islamic regime.

Reformists under threat

On Monday, former Vice-President Abdullah Nouri - a close ally of President Khatami - was freed two years early from a five-year sentence for political crimes.

Abbas Abdi
Abdi's arrest could provoke a political storm

Mr Nouri's popularity rivals that of the president himself and he is seen as a potential successor to Mr Khatami.

He is, however, banned from standing for election due to his conviction.

Also on Monday another leading figure in the reformist movement, Abbas Abdi, was arrested - a move which observers say is bound to cause a political storm.



See also:

04 Nov 02 | Middle East
20 Oct 02 | Middle East
24 Oct 02 | Middle East
24 Sep 02 | Middle East
04 Nov 02 | Middle East
15 Jan 02 | Middle East
08 Aug 01 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes