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News | Ahmadinejad: Leader-Backed Law Unconstitutional; IAEA Agent Killed

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

09 May 2012 23:50Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

LilKAhmjadShahroudi.jpg 11:50 p.m. IRDT, 20 Ordibihesht/May 9 In a meeting with Majles deputies last year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested that parliament form a commission to oversee the performance of its members and even disqualify them if they act in a way that is against the interests of the nezaam (political system). The suggestion was widely interpreted as another attempt by Khamenei and his camp to exert tighter control over the legislature. After extensive debate, during which some relatively independent deputies opposed the creation of such a commission -- Ali Motahari said that it would make the Majles "a branch of the office of the Supreme Leader" -- a law authorizing its establishment was approved.

Khamenei also set up a council last year with the mandate of resolving the differences between the heads of the three branches of the political system. The council is headed by former judiciary chief Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi (pictured with Khamenei and Ahmadinejad). On Monday, Ahmadinejad sent a letter to Shahroudi in which he asserted that the law establishing the Majles oversight commission was unconstitutional. He did not object to the control the commission will exercise over the Majles deputies; rather, Ahmadinejad argued that the law discriminates between ordinary Iranians and their parliamentary representatives, insofar as it grants sitting deputies some degree of immunity from prosecution not afforded to the common people.

Ahmadinejad's letter provoked a strong reaction among certain Majles deputies. Ahmad Tavakoli, one of his prominent critics, said that the president was stubborn and exceeding his legal authority. "Instead of insisting on his view that has very negative implications, the president must obey the Constitution," declared Tavakoli. Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, a member of the parliament's leadership team, said, "The law for overseeing the performance of the Majles deputies is none of the president's business." The hardline Kayhan newspaper challenged Ahmadinejad directly: "Mr. President, think of a solution for the high inflation and corruption, not useless [constitutional] challenges."

IAEA inspector dies in car accident

On Tuesday, Seo Ok-seok, a South Korean inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency was killed in central Iran in a car accident, in which another IAEA inspector from Slovenia, was injured. They were traveling near the Khandab complex, a heavy water plant site near the town of Arak, at midday when their car skidded and rolled over. The Slovenian inspector was reported to be in good condition. He was transferred to Tehran, from where he will return to the agency's headquarters in Vienna. Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, said, "I am deeply saddened by the news that one of the agency's inspectors was killed in a car accident during the fulfillment of his duty in Iran today." Soltanieh visited Seo's family in Vienna on Tuesday evening.

Three more Revolutionary Guard commanders die

Lieutenant Brigadier General Ahmad Mansouri, a senior official in the office of Khamenei's representative to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, passed away after a heart attack. Two other Revolutionary Guard commanders -- Colonel Najaf-Ali Kheirollahi, commander of Guard forces in the Selseleh district of Lorestan, and Colonel Nasir Pour, head of the district forces' intelligence unit -- were killed in a car accident near the town of Khorramabad.

Ten additional Guard commanders have died in the past several months. On April 21, Brigadier General Gholamreza Ghasemi, former commander of the Army's 92d Armored Division who led the operation to liberate the town of Sousangerd in Khuzestan province during the war with Iraq, passed away. This past winter, five high-ranking Guard officers died within a few days of each other: Vafa Ghaffarian, 52; Abbas Mohri, 52; Ahmad Sayyafzadeh, 55, an important Guard commander during the war with Iraq; Mansoor Torkan, 50; and Ahmad Sodagar, 51. Brigadier General Seyyed Mohammad Ali Mousavi, 47, deputy chief of Army intelligence, also passed away a few months ago. Colonel Seyyed Ali Shadmehr and two other senior officers were killed last year in what was reported to be a car accident while they were returning to Tehran after completing a mission. While the death of such a large number of senior officers over a relatively short period of time may be purely coincidental, it has given rise to considerable speculation in cyberspace, particularly since Khamenei has been silent about the deaths, whereas in the past he always sent messages of condolence to the families of senior officers who had died.

Fuel, electricity prices to increase by 70 percent

A Majles commission approved a budget according to which the government must make about $40 billion from raising fuel and electricity prices in the current Iranian year that began on March 20. In order for the government to meet the target, the price of various fuels, such as natural gas, gas-oil, and gasoline, as well as electricity, must increase by an average of 70 percent. The laws that govern the elimination of the subsidies and the provision of compensatory cash payouts to the Iranian people stipulate that such prices cannot increase by more than 20 percent in any given year.

Khamenei addresses Mousavi and Karroubi's possible release

Melli-Mazhabi, the website of the nationalist-religious coalition, reports that Ayatollah Reza Ostadi, a conservative cleric and former member of the Guardian Council, recently met with Khamenei and asked him to release Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, from house arrest; the three Green Movement Leaders have been extra-legally detained in their homes since February of last year. According to the website, Khamenei responded, "I do not oppose their release, but can you guarantee that after they are released they will remain silent and will not speak against the interests of the nezaam?"

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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