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Iran: Supervisory official slams Khatami's bill, vows to block it

An official of the supervisory Guardians Council lashed out Friday at President Mohammad Khatami's bill on propping up presidential powers, describing it dangerously "unconstitutional" and pledging to veto it, IRNA reported.

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.

"They (architects of the bill) have envisaged the president some power which is contrary to the Constitution," director general of the Guardians Council's information office, Hassan Mirdamadi, told a meeting of the supervisory body in this central city in Yazd province.

"This is very dangerous and God willing the Guardians Council will strongly and firmly confront this bill and oppose it," he said.

The council vets the parliament's decisions to verify their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law and the Constitution.

"They have taken this decision on the assumption that they will maintain this (presidential) authority to the end and the next president will be chosen among themselves.

"Had they thought that people would cast their vote for somebody else, they would have never done this," the mid-ranking cleric said.

"A very dangerous presidential power is taking shape; this is contrary to the Constitution and it will definitely be resisted," he added.

"The despotism written into this law is very terrible and the next president would not leave any right to judges and nobody could do anything without the president's permission," Mirdamadi went on to say.

Khatami has repeatedly complained of lacking necessary prerogatives to uphold the law, including against the courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

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 aside the 'ballyhoo' made by the opponents of the bill, saying he was hopeful about the Guardians Council's cooperation in passing it.

Vice President for legal and parliamentary affairs, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said Tuesday that he saw no reason for the oversight body to veto the bill.

"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.

Abtahi said that Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi was due to discuss the bill with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

... Payvand News - 4/12/03 ... --

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