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Iran government spokesman rules out Khatami's resignation

Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh Tuesday night brushed aside speculation that President Mohammad Khatami may resign in the face of ongoing opposition to bolster presidential powers, IRNA reported from Qazvin.

"The administration of Mr. Khatami is very hopeful about the future of economic, social and cultural progress and thus the issue of resignation is out of the question," he told an administrative session in this city, northwest of Tehran.

The supervisory Guardian Council recently raised up the ante after it vetoed President Khatami's second bill to shore up the presidential authority, including against courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

Khatami, who came into power in 1997 on a mandate to establish a civil society, has repeatedly complained of lacking necessary prerogatives to uphold the law.

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

While Khatami has made not public his reaction to the Guardian Council's rejections, his deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, has said that the veto had taken the president by surprise.

Ramezanzadeh insisted on the government's belief that "all legal ramifications have been taken into account in this bill" on the presidential power.

"The government believes that in order to administer state affairs better, it must be provided with the minimum tools so that the president, as the country's number two and executor of the Constitution, can take action," he said.

The bill on propping up 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 Majlis (Parliament) has given its resounding blessing to the bill but to become full-blown law, the Guardian Council which supervises parliament's decisions to verify their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law and the Constitution must endorse the bill.

The supervisory body has cited the bill falling foul of at least 15 articles of the Constitution and sent it back to parliament for review.


Ramezanzadeh also defended President Khatami's record in office, including his political and economic performance.

"When Mr. Khatami took the helm of the administration, Iran's situation in terms of foreign policy was the worst; European ambassadors had quit Iran amid the enemies' direct threats.

"But the wisdom and prudence shown by the Islamic Revolution's Supreme Leader in creating trust through announcing (presidential) elections as healthy led to the people's participation in the (next) elections and the enemies' disappointment.

"At present, Iran has the most active diplomacy among regional countries and has forged strong relations with many powerful countries," the government spokesman said.

As for the economic state of the country, "the government of Mr. Khatami sought the views of economic experts and examined Iran's economic ills as well as reformed the structure of the economy which was heavily state-owned", Ramezanzadeh added.

He cited "elimination of cumbersome regulations for the private sector's operation and investment, unification of foreign exchange rates, establishment of a reserve fund (for surplus oil revenues), reforming taxation laws, renovation of industry and presentation of a bill on attracting foreign investment" among economic activities.

Ramezanzadeh further touched on the government's "massive investment in the oil and gas industry in order to boost their production and exports" as well as its plans for "optimal use of the country's water and subsidies".

"While the country sometimes faced problems for day-to-day payments, the government of Mr. Khatami presented a proper and efficient plan, enabling the country to administer the state affairs in case oil was not sold for one and half years," he added.

... Payvand News - 5/21/03 ... --

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