LEADER PRONOUNCED THE REQUIEM FOR THE MAJLES

By Safa Haeri

TEHRAN 7 Aug. (IPS) In a move worthy of a Banana Republic, the leader of the Islamic Regime of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenehíi settled late Monday night the dispute between the Majles and the Judiciary by arbitrarily changing the Parliamentís regulation, as suggested by the Assembly for the Discernment of the Stateís Interests, or the Discerning Assembly (DA), thus reducing reformist-dominated House to a mere rubber-stamp Chamber.

"This is the first time in Iranís contemporary history that a ruler, even the most authoritarian and despotic of them has dared to so blatantly humiliate the Majles, supposedly the regimeís most important and honoured power and openly slap lawmakers in the face. In fact, this is an unforgivable insult to the entire nation", commented angrily one jurist who asked for anonymity.

At the end of a three and half hour meeting, the 32-members DA came out Monday night, deciding that "in case the candidates proposed to the Majles by the Judiciaryís Chief as new jurists of the Guardian Council do not get absolute majority during the first round of vote cast, they would be elected with the relative majority in the second tour instead of absolute majority, as stipulated by Majlesís inner regulation", the official news agency IRNA reported.

Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, Speaker of the Majles Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi and Secretary of the GC Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati were present at the DAís emergency session.

There was no word from the Speaker and no comment from Tuesday morning papers, as Mr. Khamenehíis decision came late for them.
According to the Majles regulations, the GCís jurists must be elected with absolute majority, no matter how many sessions and vote taking.

The Majles had rejected all but one of the seven candidates proposed by the leader-controlled Judiciary to sit in the GC, a watch-dog institution that make sure that all laws passed by the Majles are in strict conformity with Islamic canons as well as approving the credentials of candidates taking part in elections.

Out of the GCís twelve members, six are senior clerics appointed by the leader and the others, jurists, elected by the Majles over a list presented by the Judiciary, with three of them changing alternately.

Arguing that it could not attend the Presidentís oath taking unless all its members are present, the GC had in fact threatened to boycott the swearing in ceremonies scheduled for Sunday, prompting Mr. Khamenehe'i to refer the row to the AD, a consultative body placed under the chairmanship of the former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani that also arbitrates between the GC and the Majles when the two clashes.

But in a commentary, the pro-Khatami "Aftab Yazd" (Sun of Yazd) reminded the GC that in the past, it had taken many decisions without the presence of all its members and therefore, "a lot of laws and elections, including that of Mr. Khatami, should be called off as illegal".

Though analysts had predicted that the AD would side with the conservative-controlled Judiciary against the reformist-oriented Legislative, yet none of them could think of such an "unconstitutional" decision going as far as suggesting changes in the Majles internal regulations.

The leaderís provocative decision to back ADís illegal decision in fact confirms a scenario worked out by Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani to use the absolute powers of the leader for replacing gradually the Parliament with the AD, placing this institution next, if not over the three other powers, analysts said.

"While Mr. Khatami had stressed on the role of the Majles as the sole and constitutional legislative institution, the conservatives were trying to use the DA next to the GC, as another filter for the parliamentís reformist decisions by transferring its legislative rights to the Discerning Assembly and thus reduce to the minimum both the power and the importance of the House", Mr. Mohammad Mehdi Khalaji, a Paris-based Iranian independent journalist and commentator had told the Persian service of the BBC.

In an editorial published Monday and hours before the ADís controversial decision was announced, the radical afternoon daily "Keyhan", the mouthpiece of Mr. Khamenehe'i had urged the Assembly to end the row by pronouncing as "illegal" and "anti-Constitution" the Majlesís regulation, "forcing the lawmakers to chose the three new GC jurists from the list presented to them by the Judiciary Head".

Earlier in the day, Mr. Hashemi-Shahroudi had turned the drama-bound row with the Majles into a police thriller by stating that an unidentified person who had passed wrong information to a lawmaker, claiming he was calling from the Judiciaryís Chief cabinet, had orchestrated the whole crisis.

"The Judiciary has no difference with Majles concerning election of lawyers to the GC, the problem being between Majles and GC", Mr Hashemi-Shahroudi told a gathering of senior judges, expressing surprise that some persons dared to tell a lie and attribute falsehoods to the Judiciary Chief!!

He said that he had ordered the Stateís Inspectorate Organisation to identify the person(s), who caused the provocations at Majles on Saturday, and introduce them to the nation and punish them.

But it was unclear why he referred the case to the SIO and not to the Intelligence Ministry, as the former organisation is incompetent for such issues.

Reformists blamed the whole crisis on the Iraqi-born Hashemi-Shahroudi, as he had cold-shouldered on Sunday a compromise proposed by Mr. Karroubi to settle the dispute amicably within representatives of the Judiciary, the House and the leader in order to enable the parliament to go ahead with the swearing-in of the embattled President "as soon as possible."

Introduced on 6 February 1988 by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and incorporated into the constitution in 1989, the DA never played any significant role in the life of the regime until Ayatollah Khamenehe'i named Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani as its Chairman in 1997.

Ever since he took over the DA, Mr. Hashemi-Rafsanjani had left no stone unturned in order to change the nature of the DA into an institution rival to the Majles and at times, to the Government, legislating laws and bold policy-making decisions, experts noted. ENDS OATH TAKING LEADER 7801