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By Safa Haeri
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2004

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TEHRAN, 17 Mar. (IPS) Iranian President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday conceded "defeat" to the ruling conservatives and announced that he will withdraw the bills he had submitted a year ago to the Majles aimed at curtailing some powers of the Council of the Guardians in the one hand and giving the president some of its withheld powers on the other.

The bills were approved by the outgoing Parliament, controlled by the reformists, but was rejected by the leader-controlled CG for being against the Constitution.

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet’s last meeting in the running Iranian year that ends on 20 March, a badly lamed Khatami acknowledged for the first time that he was defeated on carrying out the reforms he had promised more than five years ago, including reforming electoral and press laws, saying he is "ashamed" of the Iranian people who had trusted him.


"The fact that Mr. Khatami says he is ashamed means that for the first time, he has also reached the conclusion that no reforms is possible in this regime of which he would continue to serve as president anyhow", commented Mr. Ahmad Salamatian, a former Member of the Majles and a respected political analyst based in Paris talking to the Persian service of the BBC.

Mr. Khatami who has lost the backing of the Majles as a result of the last elections said he decided to withdraw the projects of fear to see that the new Majles that was won by the conservatives at the last Legislative elections of 20 February "might use the bills to reduce further more the already limited powers of the president" current rights of the chief executive.

"We submitted several bills which were resisted by the Guardian Council. Even the dignitaries of the Guardian Council rejected their own statement that the president is responsible for implementing the Constitution", Mr. Khatami said, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

He bitterly criticized the CG that, in his view, is a "strong barrier blocking all reforms, reducing the powers of the president to that of a logistic agent for other organs of the regime", saying that the people who seek their own rights want policymaker and supervisor, but they don’t want mandatory form of ruling system.

"The people should know that according to certain dignitaries the president is no longer the second figure after the Supreme Leader charged with upholding the Constitution and defending the rights of the people. They downgraded the president as an official in charge of logistic affairs of the system", he deplored, according to IRNA, adding that he believes the CG undermines the ruling system with the approaches it currently adopted.

Asked about the setback in the process of the democratic movement of the country, President Khatami said, "The problem emanates from fundamental shortages in the process of democracy. When the mandatory attitude takes the place of supervision. The official in charge of supervision doesn’t trust other officials working within the system and sets up parallel intelligence system to impose his views. We have major hurdles in the way of democracy."

However, he reiterated that unless removed by other high-ranking dignitaries, he would continue serving as president.

Disclosing that he lost hope with the Guardian Council’s mandatory attitude towards the Executive branch, Khatami said, "Never mind. The people will know their president’s attitude and the scope of his authority. Please expect me at the same level".

Touching on the elections that were marred by the mass disqualification of hundreds of reformist candidates, including a hundred lawmakers by the Council of the Guardians, Mr. Khatami said that though he believes that the rights of many people who were barred from running in the election have been violated, he was ready to work with the new Majles.

"The new MMs would exercise good cooperation with the government if they were committed to the slogans they gave ahead of the election", he hoped.

He expressed concern about summoning the MPs critical of the Guardian Council to the court and called on head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi to stop the trend, taking place in a series of indictments by the Prosecutor. ENDS KHATAMI DEFEAT 17304



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