Iran's powerful bazaar calls on Khatami to look into economic crisis
(AFP, Tehran) - In an unprecedented open letter to moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, members of Iran's powerful bazaar association called on the head of state Sunday to look into the country's economic "crisis."
In the letter, published Sunday in the conservative newspaper Ressalat, the conservative 2,500-member bazaar association told Khatami that Iran's current "economic crisis represents a threat more than ever."
"Twenty-five thousand workers are threatened with being laid off, 500 factories across the country are closing, while the cost of living does not stop to rise to the detriment of the disadvantaged classes," the association said.
"We call on you to look into the economic crisis and show on state television a balance sheet of your administration's work during the past three years so that the people know what has been done, what still needs to be dealt with, and in the end, how you plan to carry through the reforms which were never achieved," the group demanded.
The association also deplored the continuous tug-of-war between the regime's two main political factions, affirming that "the enemies have targeted the foundations of the Islamic republic's ideologies."
The comments by the bazaar association come just four days after Khatami announced he will seek a second term in office in next year's election and "plans to firmly defend his reforms."
"I will take part in the election and will present my points of view that I will put to e vote of the people," the head of state said during a meeting with the deans of universities and heads of research centres in Tehran."I will stand with even more developed reform plans," he said.
The majority of the bazaar association voted against Khatami in 1997, favoring conservative former parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri. The merchants have repeatedly voiced their support for Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his opposition to the "US-style reforms."
The Tehran bazaar, which in 1979 was a major source of support for the Islamic Revolution, is known as a "city in a city and an economy in an economy," where 300,000 people work and 600,000 customers visit each day.
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )