KHATAMI NOT SATISFIED AT CG REJECTING REFORMIST CANDIDATES

TEHRAN, 11 Jan. (IPS) President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, angry at the great number of reformist candidates, including many present influential MMs (Members of the Majles) rejected by the Council of Guardians to stand in the coming legislative elections, pledged Sunday to tap "legal channels" to oppose the move.
"I do not agree with this way of disqualifications and I will use legal channels to deal with this issue, which I hope will bear fruit", the powerless Khatami told reporters after a cabinet session.

Chairman of the Majles’ National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission Mohsen Mirdamadi was even blunter, comparing the disqualifications as a "political coup".

"This is a civilian coup d’Etat", he said, quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA, adding, "They have barred certain individuals in every electoral constituency in order to clear the way for their favourite candidates.
"By doing so, they have practically specified the make-up of the seventh parliament from now and this is not an election, but a selection", he added, confirming indirectly many Iranian analyst’s forecast that the conservatives would leave no stone unturned in order to re-gain the control of the Majles, an important step prior of the start of talks with Washington aimed at resuming diplomatic relations.
Among the rejected are many incumbent MMs, including the President’s younger brother, Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first deputy Speaker and leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the country’s largest political organisation, Mr. Behzad Nabavi, the second deputy-Speaker, Mohsen Armin or Ali Akbar Kho’eini, close to the students.

Other well-known reformist MMs being disqualified by the leader-controlled Guardians are the briefly jailed Hoseyn Loqmanian, Naser Shirzad, Mrs. Elaheh Koola’i, Mrs. Fatemeh Haqiqatjoo, Mrs. Shahrbanoo Amanipoor, etc. most of them on charges of activities against the regime, insulting highest-ranking officials or not believing in the fundaments of the Islamic Revolution, the Constitution or Islam.

According to Mr. Mirdamadi, one of the leading rejected deputies, the supervisory board had barred the first and second deputy-Speakers on the grounds that they were disloyal to Islam and the Islamic Republic as well as the supreme leader.
Belief in and commitment to Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran, allegiance to the Constitution and Velayat-e Faqih (Islamic Jurisprudence, as represented by the present leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i), having good physical health, holding at least an
Associate of Arts/Science degree or its equivalent, lack of criminal records and being between ages of 30 and 75 are among pre-requisites for the nominees.

Actually, the majority of candidates running for the next Majles elections have been invalidated because of non allegiance to either the very fundaments of the present theocratic Constitution, Islam or the Islamic revolution, according to a statement released Friday by the Council of the Guardians.

"This issue must be examined and if (it) turns out to be illegitimate, it must be confronted", President Khatami added, as 70 deputies temporarily walked out of the parliament session earlier in the day and held a sit-in to protest against the disqualifications, with one key MM threatening to divulge the names of those who pull the strings in banning the aspirants.
"I think what has happened contradicts the view of the Supreme Leader. We must always be worried about the public dissatisfaction and God willing, the Guardian Council will make amends", he further said, without spelling what he could do if the Guardians insist on the rejections.
However, President Khatami’s "advise" to the disqualified hopefuls as well as to all political groups to stay calm and move in the framework of the law and avoid doing anything which may lead to tensions" prompted Iranian analysts to disagree with some commentators seeing a looming "confrontation at the top".

"As his usual, Khatami would find his way to satisfy the ruling conservatives, meaning that he would abstain from open confrontation with the leader, for the simple reason that the CG, which has the right to approve or reject the credential of all candidates to all elections in the Islamic Republic, is directly controlled by Mr. Khameneh’i", explained one observer.

"Majles shows sensitivity toward the country’s fate and this is natural, but I advise (the MMs) to remain calm and God willing, we will manage to resolve the problem through peaceful means", he said, adding "Any action which may create tensions must be avoided and instead ways which help the protests bear fruit must be explored".
Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroobi, the "chameleon" Speaker of the Majles said he and the President have made consultations with Ayatollah Khameneh’i, the Secretary of the CG, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and some other officials over the case.

"We will continue our efforts", he said, without saying if the consultations have produced any result satisfying the reformists, but urging on the rejected candidates to lodge complaints within the legal period announced by the officials.

"The time of rejecting the eligibility of candidates without providing any plausible reason is past, no one can anymore accept such practices", he told the leader-controlled CG.

"Rejection of famous figures makes no sense. If the reason for their disqualification has been proved, they (the board) must present evidence and reasons", President Khatami said.

His official Spokesman, Mr. Abdollah Ramezanzadeh was even more open, not ruling an open clash between the CG and the government.

"Decision by the Council of the Guardians should not be political or inconsistent with the law. Rejection of eligibility of the incumbent MPs is unacceptable, without documentary evidence, politically motivated and impractical", he said on Sunday, speaking in a round-table debate on "The Government and Election", held at IRNA.
"The Council of the Guardians should substantiate the reasons for rejecting the candidates and prove that its action is in accordance with the law. Then the Interior Ministry and the government will respect their decision", he said, adding that the government will strictly enforce the law and will not bow to illegal decisions".

"The government sees itself not obliged to put into practice any illegal decision no matter which organ had taken it. No one should insist on illegal methods", he said.
"We are witnessing the most wide scale rejection in the history of the Iranian parliament. The reason for the rejections as well as any thing behind the scene is crystal clear to us", the younger Khatami told reporters, threatening to reveal the names of those behind the rejections "if parliament efforts to rescind the disqualifications prove futile", according to IRNA.

"The sit-in today is the beginning of a movement which will have more ramifications and if the legitimate demands of the MPs are not addressed, it will become more widespread and take up other dimensions", he observed, adding that they will start with protests to begin with and continue "according to our programs", which he did not reveal, but warned about an en bloc resignation.

Ramezanzadeh also criticized the Radio and Television that is controlled by the conservatives and depending directly to the leader, for "ignoring impartiality and pursuing political considerations in its broadcasts", acknowledging openly that the Organisation has never been under the control of the government. The Executive Boards announced last week that the competency of 92.88 percent of the nominees for the upcoming Majles elections throughout the country had been approved, pending the views of the Supervisory Boards.
Registration of nominees for the upcoming Majlis elections began throughout the country on 13 December and ran for one week. ENDS IRAN ELECTIONS 11104