Former Iranian president Akbar Hashmi Rafsanjani, head of the conservative-backed list in the February elections, has given up his seat in the Iranian parliament opening Saturday, state television reported Thursday.
In a letter quoted by the television, Rafsanjani, 66, blamed a strong propaganda campaign against him.
"I apologize to the people but given the extent of the propaganda being conducted against me, I am obliged to give up my mandate," he said.
Reformists who dominate the new parliament had feared that the influential Rafsanjani would spoil their celebrations by standing as speaker, a post he held for most of the 1980s.
While the reformist flagship party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), had vowed it would not vote for him, Rafsanjani had enough support among the moderates as well as conservatives to create a problem for the reformists.
His announcement Thursday opened the way for Mehdi Karubi, a former close associate of Rafsanjani and his successor to the speakership in 1989, to take the post.
In the eyes of the reformists Rafsanjani was irredeemably tarnished by accepting the support of the conservatives in the elections, when he claimed to be a moderate, his refusal to condemn a widespread crackdown on the reformist press mounted by the conservative-dominated courts, and his suspected links, exposed by a since-jailed reformist journalist, to the murders of dissidents in 1998.
The reformists also questioned Rafsanjani's right to a seat in the new parliament, after the conservative election watchdog the Guardians Council, following three months of factional squabbling after the February 18 elections, ruled that he had come 20th in the list of candidates for the 30 seats in Tehran, instead of 29th, 30th or even below as originally believed.
The result, announced last week after an intervention by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hoisted Rafsanjani above Karubi, who came 23rd -- TEHRAN (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)