Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiWednesday, January 14, 2004
<b>82 Reformist MPs Protest Reelection Ban, Despite Khatami</b>
• On the fourth day of their sit-in protest at the Majles, 82 reformist MPs who were banned by the conservative Guardians Council observers from running for reelection, defied President Khatami's appeal to end their strike. The election observers reporting to the Guardians Council disqualified nearly half of 8000 applicants for candidacy in the February 20 Majles elections. By rejecting President Khatami's plea, offered in a closed-door Majles meeting, the disqualified MPs parted ways with the government for the first time since their election four years ago. Before that meeting, reformist MP Ali Shakurirad told the Majles that with the mass rejection of reformist candidates, the conservative faction showed that tactics such as compromise and behind-the-scene negotiations would not deter it from seeking the absolute power. Majles speaker Mehdi Karrubi preached calm and promised to take up the matter once more with the Supreme Leader. A group of conservative seminary students in Qum vowed to march to Tehran in support of the Guardians Council, but no popular reaction in support of the reformists could be seen in Tehran streets in the past four days.
• The Supreme Leader praised the Guardians Council's vigilance today, but asked it to reconsider the disqualification of the Majles MPs.
• “We're going to continue to speak out in areas where we believe that it's clear that we need to see progress, whether it's in the behavior of the Iranian regime or the importance of the Iranian people having an opportunity to express themselves through [free and fair] elections,” the US assistant secretary of state, William Burns, said in Cairo, after talks with the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmed Maher.
• Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani called the US officials' criticism of the mass exclusion of the election candidacy applicants “undemocratic,” adding that “it is not up to the US to meddle in the vetting process, which is based on Islam and the Islamic Republic constitution.”
• President Khatami met on Tuesday with 28 provincial governors who had threatened to resign in support of the disqualified candidates. He said, “Together we stay, or together we shall go.” Some foreign news agencies interpreted his remarks as a resignation threat, an interpretation that was later denied by his office.
• With the mass rejection of the election candidacy applicants only 6 weeks before the elections, the conservative faction has engaged the reformists in protests, lobbying and negotiations, instead of campaigning, Mashhad-based reformist commentator and activist <b>Mohammad-Sadeq Javadi-Hesar</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. When eventually the Guardians Council reverses the ban on some of the candidates, it would be too late for them to campaign, he adds. The regime's right wing showed that when it comes to its factional political goals, it has no regard for the national interest; it proved that it is a totalitarian movement in search of greater share of power. Boycotting the elections by the reformist faction would be unlikely, says Shoaleh-Saadi, whose own application has been rejected. (Baktash Khamsehpour)
• The participants in the first convention of the newly formed secular republican union (Etehad-e Jumhurikhahan-e Iran) were divided on the issue of boycotting the Majles elections or urging greater voter turnout in favor of the reformist faction, activist <b>Ali Shakier</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. It is positive for the people to vote instead of resorting to violence and guns, he adds. Any action should observe three conditions: preventing a return of dictatorship, helping to further democracy and preventing disintegration of the country, he adds. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
• Several cabinet members visited the striking MPs to offer support and encouragement. The provincial governors and several ministers, deputy ministers and other reformist officials vowed to resign, if the Guardians Council's decision to bar reformists MPs from reelection was not reversed. However, a Guardians Council spokesman said the sit-in strike of the disqualified MPs would not deter the Council from standing firm on its position.
• The provocative move by the Guardians Council shows the reason why nothing positive happens in Iran, Berlin daily <i>Der Tagesspiegel </i> writes. The Guardians Council's rejection of election candidates stands in sharp contrast to the Islamic government's conciliatory foreign policy moves, the <i>Frankfurter Allgemeine</i> writes. (Parviz Farhang)
• The mass disqualifications of the reformists pose a dilemma for President Khatami: either he weakens the regime by throwing his support behind the disqualified MPs, or risks losing his popular support by siding with the conservatives, writes the Reuters in a news analysis from Tehran.
• The first MP to announce his resignation was Ahmad Moradi, who said he was stepping down to defend Iranians' rights to a free election.
• Majles speaker Mehdi Karrubi said nearly all 3,900 disqualified applicants for candidacy in the Majles elections belonged to the reformist camp, while all the members of the Guardians Council election supervision committees, who disqualified the applicants, were selected from the conservatives' supporters.
• In their sixth statement, the striking MPs threatened to go on hunger strike next week in order to protest what they called flagrant rejection of the people's sovereignty by the Guardians Council.
• In his speech at the Majles, Sanandaj MP Jalal Jalalizadeh said the Guardians Council has barred him from reelection for moral corruption and association with illegal political groups.
• Conservative political <b>Saeed Rajai-Khorasani</b>, former Iran's representative to the UN, whose application for candidacy in the Majles elections has been approved, tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that nothing will come of the disqualified MPs sit-in strike. The Guardians Council has based its decisions on candidacy applicants on religion, and will not change it for political considerations. President Khatami's government is legally unable to do anything in support of the barred election candidacy applicants, he adds. (Siavash Ardalan)
• Three German Christian Democrats published a letter in support of the barred Majles reformists. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
• It is neither rational nor logical for both the interior ministry and the Guardians Council to disqualify candidacy applicants, <b>Ahmad Montazeri</b>, son of dissident senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>, quoting his father, who was the head of the initial assembly which wrote the Islamic Republic constitution. There cannot be two parallel institutions in charge of the elections, he adds. The interior ministry is constitutionally charged with holding the elections, and the Guardians Council's supervision is only a safeguard against abuses, he adds. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
• At a time when the European countries should condemn lack of democracy in Iran, they are meekly silent, London's daily <i>Telegraph</i>'s diplomatic correspondent <b>Anton LaGuardia</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Shahran Tabari, London)
• Some people say that the mass disqualification of the reformist MPs is a conspiracy hatched by the two factions of the regime in order to generate public interest in the elections, political activist and former Majles MP <b>Qasem Shoaleh-Saadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. But even if the reformist MPs were to stand for reelection, the people would not vote for them, since the voters are frustrated with the reformists' weak performance in the past four years. (Maryam Ahmadi)
• The Guardians Council has interpreted its constitutional supervisory role in the elections on the principle that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, which is the opposite of the legal norm, Tehran-based lawyer <b>Nemat Ahmadi</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. Disqualifying candidacy applicants based on hearsay, accusations and rumors and innuendo is contrary to Islamic principles, the society of Qum theologians announced. (Maryam Ahmadi)
• In 1996 report, the Human Rights Watch showed that the vetting power of the Guardians Council was a violation of Iran's commitments to the international human rights conventions, HRW's Iran expert <b>Elaheh Sharifpour Hicks</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. When the Guardians Council rejected the Majles approved government bill that would have ended the Guardians Council's election veto power, the Khatami government and the Majles reformists did nothing, she adds. Their sit-in protest will not result in anything, she adds. (Ali Sajjadi)
<b>MPs Face Vote on Five-Year Economic Development Plan</b>
• In the Majles turned into the center of a major political crisis, the MPs, some of whom unsure about their political future due to the Guardians Council's ban on their reelection, will be asked later today to begin deliberations on President Khatami's fourth five-year economic development plan. (Fereydoun Khavand)
<b>Improvement in Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations</b>
• The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran has improved significantly during the past few years, as a result of the Iranian government's foreign policy, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain <b>Prince Turki al-Faisal Abdolaziz</b>, who is attending a conference in the UAE, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Peyman Pezhman, Abu Dhabi)
<b>Official Denies Iran-Pakistan Nuclear Cooperation</b>
• Deputy foreign minister for Asia-Pacific Affairs Mohsen Aminzadeh, who is in Islamabad on an official visit denied reports that Pakistani nuclear scientists have helped in Iran's nuclear program. “Iran's nuclear program has been developed by our own scientists and there is no outside assistance,” he said. Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency the names of five middlemen, including two from the region, who helped Iran procure components of its nuclear facilities, he said.
بهمن باستاني (راديو فردا): نمايندگان مجلس شوراي اسلامي امروز درخواست محمد خاتمي رئيس جمهوري اسلامي براي پايان دادن به تحصن را رد كردند. به گفته اين نمايندگان پشت درهاي بسته به آنان گفته است كه معتقد است مصالحه با شوراي نگهبان دست يافتني است. هيات نظارتي شوراي نگهبان صلاحيت نزديك به نيمي از داوطلبان شركت در انتخابات مجلس هفتم از جمله بيش از هشتاد نماينده فعلي مجلس را رد كرده است.
سياوش اردلان (راديو فردا): با رد شدن درخواست محمد خاتمي براي پايان تحصن نمايندگان معترض، اينك اعتراضهاي اين نمايندگان ديگر الزاما با مواضع رئيس جمهوري همخواني ندارد. نمايندگان معترض مجلس در هفتمين بيانيه اي كه هم اينك گرم تنظيم آن هستند، درخواست محمد خاتمي را رد كرده اند. آقاي خاتمي كوشيده بود امروز صبح پشت درهاي بسته با مجاب كردن نمايندگان به پايان تحصنشان، كنترل اعتراضهاي آنان را به دست گيرد. اما ظاهرا در اين جلسه غير علني، نمايندگان به محمد خاتمي يادآور كرده اند كه تلاشهاي گذشته او و آنان به نتيجه نرسيده است و ديگر نمي توان كوتاه آمد.
محمد خاتمي خود روز گذشته به استانداراني كه قصد استعفا داشتند، گفت: يا همه با هم مي مانيم، يا همه با هم مي رويم. اما امروز دفتر رئيس جمهوري كوشيد آن جمله را به عنوان تهديد به استعفا قلمداد نكند. منظور آقاي خاتمي هرچه بود، اعتراضهاي نمايندگان طرفدار او در مجلس اينك مي رود ماهيتي مستقل از موضعگيري دولت پيدا كند.
همين نمايندگان ساعتي پيش از آنكه پشت درهاي بسته با آقاي خاتمي گفتگو كنند، در جلسه علني صبح امروز مجلس به او گفتند ديگر نمي توان با رايزنيها و مذاكرات پشت پرده به نتيجه رسيد. مهدي كروبي، رئيس مداراجوي مجلس نيز هرچند اطمينان داد كه رايزنيها الزاما بي ثمر نيستند، اما او هم حاضر نشد از درخواست رئيس جمهوري براي پايان تحصن حمايت كند، بلكه ترجيح داد بگويد من حرفي در اين باره ندارم.
به نظر مي رسد لايه هاي تندروي جناح اصلاح طلب همچنان ابتكار عمل را در اعتراضهاي نمايندگان در دست دارند. محمدرضا خاتمي، نايب رئيس مجلس و برادر رئيس جمهور ساعتي پيش گفت: ما با دولت نقطه اشتراك داريم، يعني هردو با رد صلاحيتها مخالفيم، اما نمايندگان به اين نتيجه رسيده اند كه ديگر نمي توان با حرف و گفتگو به تحصن پايان داد. نمايندگان معترض بنا دارند اعتراضهاي خود را از مرحله تحصن به مرحله روزه سياسي و استعفاهاي تدريجي هم بكشانند. هنوز بحران سياسي دو جناح حاكم به خيابانها سرازير نشده است و نشاني از حمايت اجتماعي از نمايندگان معترض ديده نشده است، اما در اردوي جناح راست، جمعي از طلاب تندرو در قم تهديد كرده اند كه به سمت تهران و ساختمان مجلس امشب حركت خواهند كرد. آن دسته از نمايندگان مجلس شوراي اسلامي، كه براي اعتراض به رد صلاحيت خود براي شركت در انتخابات دوره بعدي مجلس توسط هيات هاي نظارتي شوراي نگهبان چهار روز است دست به تحصن زده اند، امروز درخواست محمد خاتمي رئيس جمهوري اسلامي براي پايان دادن به تحصن خود را رد كردند. با رد شدن اين درخواست اينك اعتراضهاي اين نمايندگان ديگر الزاما با مواضع رئيس جمهوري همخواني ندارد. خاتمي كوشيده بود امروز صبح پشت درهاي بسته با مجاب كردن نمايندگان به پايان تحصن، كنترل اعتراضهاي آنان را به دست گيرد. نشاني از حمايت اجتماعي از نمايندگان معترض در خيابانها ديده نشده است. در اردوي مقابل جمعي از طلاب قم دست به تظاهرات زدند و تهديد كردند كه تظاهرات خود را به تهران منتقل خواهند كرد.