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Iran's Parliament agrees to withdraw Khatami's twin bills


Tehran, April 18, IRNA -- Iranian MPs on Sunday approved to hand back to President Mohammad Khatami two bills which he had submitted to the parliament two years ago to boost his powers, but to no avail.

Khatami personally asked the parliament on Tuesday to withdraw the bills after facing stiff resistance from the arbitrative Guardians Council, which questioned their legality.

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who had attended the parliament session, touched on enormous efforts and repeated negotiations of the legislature with the Guardians Council, which he said, bore no fruit.

"Khatami fears that by withdrawing this bill (on presidential powers) the minimum prerogatives of the president, enshrined in the existing law, would also be taken away," he said.

Abtahi further said, "The president cannot perform his legal responsibilities; the Guardians Council meanwhile does not intend to approve these bills, thus it has to stand accountable."

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

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

The Guardians Council rejected the twin bills on the ground that they contradict the Constitution.

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

It also screens credentials of electoral candidates to confirm their commitment to the Islamic Revolution and the leadership, among other things.

Khatami has repeatedly complained that he lacked necessary prerogatives to uphold the law. He first announced in August 2003 his intention to present the two bills to parliament 'in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people'.

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

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