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Iranian Official says Guardian Council's approbatory supervision against people's rights

The Secretary General of Iran's Mardomsalari (Democracy) Party, Mostafa Kavakebian, here on Wednesday said the approbatory supervision, as practiced by the Guardian Council (GC) for qualifying elections candidates, contradicts the rights of people, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Kavakebian said GC's disqualifying nationals to run for elections is a violation of their rights, stressing that this flies in the face of the main duty of the council -- protecting the rights of people.

He highlighted the need that the GC and the Majlis settle disputes over the recent bill on amending the electoral law, meant to lift the approbatory supervision, through talks and prevent the issue from fomenting political rifts.

The GC last week rejected the bill citing several discrepancies with the Constitution and the Islamic Sharia law.

The bill, which is backed by nearly all reformist deputies now holding the majority of the Majlis seats, was submitted to the chamber last year by President Mohammad Khatami along with another one seeking to increase the power of the President.

It has been especially drawn up to address the GC's prerogative of approbatory supervision which enables the council to disqualify candidates whom it considers as unfit for state posts from running in elections.

The government had cited the bill as aiming to increase people's participation in elections and reduce wanton disqualification of hopefuls.

The GC and the Majlis normally take their disputes to the Expediency Council (EC) for final arbitration.

However, several deputies have vowed to stop the bill from being referred to the EC intimating concerns that the council might vote over the fate of the bill in favor of the GC. Still, many others have proposed to put the issue to a referendum.

Kavakebian said the Majlis deputies must try to persuade the GC to approve the bill.

He said if the EC fails to accept the bill, then the Majlis should look for more fundamental approaches, including amending the Constitution.

Kavakebian added that once the Constitution is amended, a democratically elected institution would be commissioned to supervise national elections.

He further said that amending the Constitution as is desired by the Majlis would boost people's motivation to participate in the elections.

Vice president: No reason for oversight body to veto Khatami bill

Vice President for legal and parliamentary affairs, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said here Tuesday that he saw no reason for the oversight Guardians Council to veto President Mohammad Khatami's bill to boost his executive power.

On Tuesday, the Iranian parliament gave its final blessing to the last articles of the bill, enabling the president to warn any of the three constitutional powers against any violation and mete out punishment if his warnings are not heeded.

"On the advice of Mr. Khatami, the bill to outline presidential powers has been devised with care and scruple. Thus, there is no reason for the Guardians Council to reject it," Abtahi said.

"All the constitutional principles have been attended in this bill, including qualms that it may lead to dictatorship," he added.

Stating that he needed more power to carry out his constitutional obligations, the Iranian president first announced last August his intention to present the bill "in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people".

The bill had already received an overwhelming backing of the parliament, pending screening by the Guardians Council before becoming a full-blown law amid opponent claims that it was contrary to the Constitution and risked giving way to dictatorship.

President Khatami has brushed off the 'ballyhoo' made by the opponents of the bill to bolster his power, saying he was hopeful about the Guardians Council's cooperation in passing it.

Its opponents, however, say the bill had led to an overlapping of supervisory and executive powers in the sense that it left the door open for the president to intervene in supervisory issues while he was only entrusted with execution of the law.

According to the parliament approval on Tuesday, the president can report to the legislative body once each year cases of constitutional violations or inform the public about such cases whenever needed.

"The president is the only responsible authority for the implementation of the constitution, who can be questioned on that," an MP from Tehran, Mohsen Armin, said.

Khatami himself has said that "the president's responsibility as it regards execution of the Constitution is above all the responsibility which other individuals and institutes have towards its implementation".

However, he has complained of lacking necessary prerogatives to uphold the law and establish a civil society -- his trademark presidential pledges.

Tuesday approval can boost Khatami's allies who are still reeling from a setback in the wake of low turnout during municipal elections this year. But, the big hurdle remains with the bill running the risk of being quashed by the Guardians Council.

Abtahi said that Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi was due to discuss the bill with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He did not elaborate.

The vice president cited the bill vital to fending off "foreign threats", especially at a time of heightened tensions, caused by the US-led war, in the Middle East region.

"The most important thing to repel foreign threats is to maintain internal unity and (bolster) people's participation," he added.

... Payvand News - 4/9/03 ... --

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