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Iranian Reformist MPs Resign en Masse

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Issue: 18 Section: International News Geography: Middle East Iran Topics: democracy

May 28, 2004

Iranian Reformist MPs Resign en Masse

Reformist President Mohammed Reza Khatami at celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the Shah.
(Tehran) Nearly 120 members of the Iranian parliament have resigned in protest of the barring of reformist candidates from the national election, plunging the 25-year-old republic into political chaos. A statement read by the faction across national radio condemned the interference and accused hard-line politicians of seeking to impose a Taliban-style dictatorship in Iran, a particularly cutting remark given hard-line Shiite Iran's hate of the Sunni Afghan fundamentalist movement. "We cannot continue to be present in a parliament that is not capable of defending the rights of the people and which is unable to prevent elections in which the people cannot choose their representatives," their statement read.

Pro-reform Majlis speaker Mehdi Karubi appealed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to assist in resolving the three-week old crisis. The Ayatollah has the final say on all matters of state and appoints the members of the Guardians Council, the group responsible for the disqualification of reformist candidates from the election. Ayatollah Khamenei has already intervened to order the Guardian Council to be less stringent in its vetting of candidates, bringing the number of disqualifications down from 3605 to 1160. Still, the Council has not reinstated some 80 sitting members nor any prominent supporters of reformist President Khatami.

The resignation of 40 percent of the Majlis denies it the two-thirds quorum necessary to pass legislation, indefinitely delaying approval of the national budget. Before this can happen, political procedure requires parliament to examine and vote on the resignations before their acceptance. The Guardian Council has denied the interior ministry's request to delay the election. Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother to the president and head of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, warned "If the conservatives want to organize an election with the backing of the military, this would not be an election. It would be a coup d'etat."

» BBC: Iran MPs resign over election ban

» Guardian: Iranian MPs resign en masse

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