Iran reformists say arbitration body rejected '\'progressist'\' budget
The Expediency Council, Iran's highest legislative oversight body, rejected all "progressist" items in the budget, the press quoted several reformist MPs as saying Monday.
The Expediency Council, which arbitrates between the various branches of Iran's clerical regime, decided to follow the conservative Guardians Council instead of the Majlis, Iran's reformist-majority parliament, they said.
"The Expediency Council deprived the Majlis of its most basic right, which shows there is an attempt to weaken parliament", reformist MP Jalil Sazgharnejad told the Doran-e Emrouz newspaper.
Chaired by former president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the Expediency Council put an end to an unprecedented crisis between parliament and the Guardians Council Sunday.
The constitutional surveillance body had censored several amendments by parliament to the budget presented by the government, branding them "anti-Islamic" and "anti-constitutional".
During a special meeting Sunday night, the Expediency Council rejected most of these articles, lining up alongside the government of reformist President Mohammad Khatami and the Guardians Council.
This decision was "predictable" said Mohammad-Reza Khatami, the president's brother and a deputy speaker of parliament.
"By favoring the government's point of view, the council rejected parliament's position in favor of cuts for (conservative-dominated) state broadcasting and party financing, and on aid to minorities", said Rajabali Mazrui, an MP for Isfahan and a leading reformist.
The Expediency Council passed most of the items in the budget approved by the reformist-run parliament, state television had said Sunday night.
The budget was the last of President Khatami's four-year term in office. The popular head of state has not yet formally announced whether he will stand for re-election in June. – (AFP, Tehran)
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