Conservative Paper Says Khatami Re-election Announcement Premature
Iran's conservative Ressalat newspaper said Saturday that President Mohammad Khatami's announcement that he will stand for re-election in 2001 was "premature."
"This premature announcement will deprive other possible candidates of any chance of fair competition," according to the paper which speaks for Iran's conservatives.
Ressalat said in an editorial that the announcement "lets it be known that no effort will be spared by the state to ensure that President Khatami gets re-elected.
"With this hasty announcement, the government (of President Khatami) is in a difficult test of its commitments towards its democratic convictions," said Ressalat, which criticized Khatami's candidacy announcement "eight months ahead of the election."
Khatami announced Wednesday for the first time that he will stand in the 2001 election, with the intention of "firmly defending his reforms."
He was elected on May 23rd 1997 with 20 million votes (69 percent of the total), with a four-year mandate ending in May 2001.
The Iranian constitution stipulates a maximum of two successive terms of office for the president.
"That's how we avoid a dictatorship of a minority over a majority" said Khatami, whose reforms are currently the target of a political campaign by the conservatives, who say the reforms should be inspired by Islam and the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
Khatami's decision to announce he would be standing for re-election came amid rumors in political circles in recent days that he "would not be a candidate because of the very strong pressure from the most conservative elements" of the regime.
Reforms continue to be at the center of discussion among leading figures, conservative newspapers, radio and the conservative-dominated television.
The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently rejected all western-style reform plans for Iran, and accused the United States and Britain of seeking the collapse of Iran's Islamic regime - TEHRAN (AFP)
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