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Iran: Deputy parliament speaker rules out resignation of MPs

Deputy Parliament Speaker Mohammad Reza Khatami on Sunday played down the effectiveness of resignation, which has been cited as several MPs' resort in the face of perceived strangleholds on the reform camp, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Resignation is a decision which no body is interested in and it implies that the reform agenda have reached a dead-end on whatever reasons. Thus, an alternative way must be taken up so that it benefits the state, as well as the system and individuals," he told reporters.

Press last Wednesday quoted a female deputy from Tehran, Fatemeh Haqiqat-Jou, as saying that 50 Iranian MPs were intending to resign en masse in a step which they think could ease up pressures on reformers.

"If we prove to be inefficient reformers, we will be forced to resign...since the power structure has petrified and the people's chance of appropriating reforms has been taken way," the Persian daily Hambastegi quoted here as saying.

The announcement came even before the supervisory Guardian Council on Friday rejected a second bill, proposed by President Khatami, to shore up the presidential authority, including against courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

Mohammad Reza, who is President Khatami's younger brother, said that "the rejection of the bill on presidential prerogatives is not in line with national interests of the country at the present juncture".

He urged "all (political) groups and existing currents to act so that the ground is paved for increased participation of the people and that national interests of the country are protected".

Reformists are apparently upset by a series of setbacks, including their first loss in village and city councils elections in February, which was blamed on the reform camp's inaction in the face of the rival camp's resentment to any political change.

The Guardian Council's rejection of President Khatami's twin bills has further pushed them to a tight corner, although several officials, including Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi, have hoped that a solution could be found to end the standoff.

Khatami, who came into power in 1997 on a mandate to establish a civil society and the rule of law, has repeatedly complained about the lack of necessary prerogatives to uphold the law, including against the courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

President Khatami first announced last August his intention to present the bills, including the one on electoral law reform, to the parliament 'in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people'.

Opponents of the bills have denounced them as being contrary to the Constitution and paving the way for dictatorship.

President Khatami has not made any comment after the rejection, while government spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, said he was unsure how President Mohammad Khatami would react to the supervisory body's decision.

Vice President for legal and parliamentary affairs, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said Saturday that the council's rejection was 'very unexpected' for President Khatami.

... Payvand News - 5/12/03 ... --

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