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Khatami: Iran's reform movement to go on even after a new government takes over

Tehran, Jan 9, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami stressed that the reform movement in Iran will continue long after the current government is replaced by another.

Talking to reporters here Sunday after submitting the draft of next year's (1374) budget bill to Majlis, he said the desire for reforms was so deeply rooted in society as to guarantee its continued pursuit by future governments after him.

He said that the next president will no doubt continue the reforms that he has started.

Asked what he thought of the upcoming presidential elections, he said that free and fair elections would guarantee continuity of the system, and expressed hope all eligible voters would participate in the democratic process.

He said that in order to guarantee a high voter turn-out, the people should should be assured their votes would count.

Khatami further impressed on the importance of focusing on programs rather than personalities in the elections.

Asked whether he would support Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in case the former president decides to run in the election, he responded by saying that his job as president was not to support a certain candidate but rather to ensure that the election would be clean and free.

He then criticized the electioneering activities that have already started aimed at tarnishing the image of presidential aspirants and increasing sectarian tensions.

Touching on the issue of the so-called "confessions" of weblog writers and what the media has said so far, he regretted that no good result has been achieved despite extensive efforts to bring out the truth.

He said he was going to discuss the issue with Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi soon, and expressed regret that the reports he had received so far on the issue have been unpleasant ones.

Voicing his opinion that maintaining prices at the current level in the coming Iranian year would defeat his proposed budget bill, the president expressed concern that the plan to freeze prices would hinder materialization of the objectives of the bill.

... Payvand News - 1/9/05 ... --

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