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IIPF's Mohammad Reza Khatami: Iran's February 20 election to reinforce Islamic Republic

Vice-Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Khatami said on Wednesday that the seventh parliamentary election slated for February 20 will serve to reinforce the Islamic Republic and national solidarity, IRNA reported from Tehran.

He said, "Election has its own law and we only want the law to be respected and nothing else."

He told reporters that the seventh parliamentary election will be an acid test for those who advocate religious democracy. "It is the right time to give an example of religious democracy."

Khatami, who is also the secretary general of Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), said, "We are determined to resist any illegal action. We will not accept any violation in the run-up to the election. We will not yield to any pressure." "If rejection of eligibility of the candidates gets an extent to which we could not defend legitimacy of the election, we will not give a list for candidates," IIPF secretary general said.

"We have already announced that as a political party we don't like to boycott the election, because, we believe in using every opportunity to advance democratic agenda," he said.

"The more candidates are disqualified, the less legitimate the election will be and certainly public participation will drop and the political parties will lose their motives, which will ultimately damage the government's legitimacy," he said.

Asked whether he had a message for the Guardian Council, Khatami said that different pillars of the system -- the government, parliament and heads of the two branches of power have objections to the current trend of vetting and view it as illegal.

"The idea that several dignitaries come together and decide what attitudes should be confirmed and what should not, will damage the status of the constitutional body rather than the dignitaries themselves and will damage the legitimacy of the system as well," Mohammad Reza Khatami said.

Asked whether the reform camp will post a joint list of candidates for the seventh parliamentary elections, he said, "We have decided to form coalition on the basis of majority, but, our criteria will be eligibility and platforms of candidates."

A reporter asked about his views on Iran-Egypt relations, the IIPF secretary general said that improved relations between the two countries would be a positive step in the history of Iran's diplomacy since the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

"Egypt is one of the pillars of the Arab and Muslim world and has a special status in the modern world. Unfortunately. we had not diplomatic relations with Egypt for certain reasons and we had a vacuum in diplomatic interaction with foreign countries."

"Fortunately, we will witness resumption of diplomatic relations with Egypt thanks to the political resolve of the leaders of the two countries," he said, adding that Iran-Egypt relations will have direct impacts on the Middle East developments.

Tehran-Cairo relations will help international peace and will contribute to the international campaign against terrorism and in the meantime will benefit the two countries, the Middle East and the Arab and Muslim world, he said.

Answering a question about positive signals being exchanged between Iran and the United States, Mohammad-Reza Khatami said that the reality is that the United States plays a role in the region and Iran also has a major part to play. "If we make our roles serve the same goal and and if we define the national interests of the two nations on the same direction, then there will be room for us to patch up our differences," he said.

"Of course, Iran-US problems are immense and we don't expect them to be resolved overnight. But, we believe that any goodwill shown and positive step taken by one side, they should be reciprocated by the other side."

... Payvand News - 1/7/04 ... --

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