The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bill veto can lead to Iran plebiscite

Tehran, Nov. 20 (Reuters): Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s reformist allies have said they could push for a rare referendum if two Bills challenging the hardliners’ grip on power were vetoed by conservatives.

Khatami, for the first time in his two-term presidency, was heading for a confrontation with his conservative rivals by submitting two Bills to parliament in October that would strengthen his hand in passing through his reform agenda.

“If the Bills are not approved by conservative establishments, one of the choices could be a referendum,” the Aftab-e Yazd daily quoted Mohsen Mirdamadi, head of parliament’s foreign affairs and National Security Commission as saying.

The passage of the Bills through parliament comes as thousands of pro-reform students have been staging almost daily protests against a dissident’s death sentence, further heightening political tension in the Islamic Republic.

“Referendum, referendum” has become a student rallying cry. Reformists say only a two-thirds majority in parliament is needed to hold a referendum, while conservatives insist such a motion would still need the approval of the Guardian Council and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Only two national referendums have been held in post-revolutionary Iran, once to establish the Islamic Republic in 1979 and another to amend the constitution in 1989.

Reformists accuse conservatives of trying to spark violence as a pretext for ordering a crackdown and derail Khatami’s Bills.

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