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Reformist MPs deliver written report to Iran president on twin bills

The reformist members of parliament said on Sunday that they have done their best to reach an agreement with the Guardians Council on the twin bills delivered by the president, IRNA reported from Tehran.

In a letter to President Mohammad Khatami, the MPs reaffirmed their commitment to defend the rights of the people adding that they will never accept the sovereignty of the nation to be violated in the context of ambiguous law, a reference to the current election law.

They said that the parliament has made modifications to the bill on the election law to reach a settlement with the Guardian Council.

Last month, the MPs said that the parliament has made a breakthrough with the Guardians Council over the election law. The president had described the two bills as the crucial means to fulfill his promises to the people.

But, the Guardians Council has yet to accept a bill which provides a procedure for the president to guarantee the constitutional rights of the people.

A legislation passed four months ago, empowered the president to serve a notice to the Supreme Court when he deemed a verdict issued by the court of justice, is in contrast to the Constitution.

The president's notice automatically stops implementation of the verdict and requires the Judiciary to refer the case to a panel of senior judges at the Supreme Court to see whether or not the constitutional rights of the defendant has been respected, according to the legislation.

"Subsequently, the parliamentary commission on national security and foreign affairs held four meetings with dignitaries from the Guardians Council. Unfortunately, the meetings ended without an agreement except for first one," the letter said.

The reformist MPs accused the Guardians Council of being inflexible concerning the two bills.

The Guardians Council is constitutionally empowered to supervise the elections, but, they insist that it is within their authority to confirm the eligibility of the candidates, while the reformists say it is up to the Interior Ministry.

Freedom of expression, the major promise of the president ahead of the elections has become a stumbling block for the president.

Critics of the president believe that the president could not live up to his promise to guarantee freedom of expression in light of the hefty verdicts being issued by the courts against individuals criticizing some organs of the government system which are not responsible before the people including the Guardians Council.

The defendants believe that they only exercised their constitutional rights by criticizing the state of affairs and it is not fair to subject them to prison terms.

They believe that criticizing the state of affairs should be heeded to improve the situation rather than being interpreted as something against the system.

Karroubi urges parliament to move fast over Khatami's twin bills

Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi on Sunday asked deputies to accelerate processing of President Mohammad Khatami's twin bills on electoral law and presidential power, which have been marred by foot-dragging and factional bickering, IRNA reported from Tehran.

The appeal came in response to further criticism raised by parliamentary opponents who have been drawing forward the case of those who cite the bills as falling foul of the Constitution.

"It is almost a year that varied discussions about these bills have continued and committees of the Majlis and the Guardians Council have held sessions on them. There have also been fringe political discussions.

"The problem is quite clear; we must carry out our task with speed and care and send the bills to the Guardians Council," Karroubi said.

The Guardians Council, comprising six clerics and another six lawyers, vet parliamentary bills to confirm their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law and the Constitution.

In May, the supervisory body raised the ante after it rejected the ill on presidential power and sent it back to the parliament for review. The council had earlier vetoed the electoral bill. Parliament, which mostly includes MPs allied to President Khatami's ambitions of establishing a civil society and upholding the law, has also taken up a tough line, showing little leniency.

Karroubi suggested that the bills are referred to the Guardians Council again and "in case any laxity or concession is observed, necessary reforms will be made once they are returned" to the parliament.

The burning question in the minds of political observers is what may come next if the Guardians Council still rejects the last possible reforms to the bills.

One likely scenario is to send them for the arbitration of the Expediency Council, but President Khatami has ruled out that. He has however hinted at a compromise.

While ruling out that the bills contradicted the Constitution or the Islamic Sharia law, he said in June, "I believe there is need at this phase to reach understanding with the esteemed Guardians Council."

"Otherwise, I do not regard advisable to refer the bill on presidential power to the State Expediency Council," he said in a letter to the parliament speaker.

The president, who came into power in 1997 on a mandate to establish a civil society, has repeatedly complained that he lacked necessary prerogatives to uphold the law.

He first announced last August his intention to present the two to parliament 'in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people'.

The bill on bolstering presidential powers seeks to enable the president to warn the three constitutional powers against any violation and mete out punishment if his warnings are not heeded.

The second bill seeks to do away with the Guardians Council's power to disqualify candidates from running in state elections.

Opponents say if written into law, the bills will put the door open for the infiltration of anti-revolutionary elements into the Islamic establishment and lead to dictatorship.

... Payvand News - 7/20/03 ... --

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