The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Khatami challenges hardliners

Tehran, Sept. 24 (Reuters): Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami presented a Bill to parliament today in a make-or-break move to challenge the power of his hardline rivals who have blocked his efforts to reform the Islamic republic.

The Bill aims to clarify the President’s powers and joins other proposed legislation meant to shore up Khatami’s ability to carry out reforms.

The new Bill would enable the President to have judiciary and parliamentary officials removed from office if they violated the constitution or overstepped their powers.

“The spirit of this Bill is that if Khatami realises that the constitution has been violated, he can put a stop to it,” Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters after presenting the Bill to the assembly on the President’s behalf.

“I believe Khatami is quite serious about using all means within the constitution,” Abtahi said. “He has reached the conclusion that he cannot carry out his duties if these Bills fail to get approval.”

Khatami has grown frustrated at his inability to introduce more responsible and democratic government in Iran despite five years in office and two landslide election wins behind him.

He has said he would call for a referendum on the issue if the latest measures go the way of other reforms and are overturned by conservatives.

In May, Khatami said he would resign if reforms founder, a move that analysts believe could spark a serious political crisis and social unrest in the country of 65 million people.

Khatami’s government has also presented a Bill to curtail the conservative-dominated Guardian Council’s power to vet election candidates.

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