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Endless Infighting Yields Public Holiday

by HANA H. in Tehran

11 Sep 2010 22:43No Comments
20_8906161542_L600.jpgAhmadinejad defies Majles, extends Eid ul-Fitr recess.

[ dispatch ] Despite Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei's repeated calls for cooperation between the Majles (parliament) and the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his order to the Guardian Council to end the dispute, conflict continues between the legislative and executive branches of the Islamic Republic. Ahmadinejad and Majles Speaker Ali Larijani have never hidden their mutual distaste, taking jabs and obstructing each other at every opportunity.

In the latest round of the dispute, Ahmadinejad submitted a bill to the Majles that proposed omitting March 20, anniversary of the oil industry's nationalization, and June 15, anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1963 arrest, from the roster of national holidays and lengthening the Eid ul-Fitr holiday from one to three days. The Majles decided to postpone a decision on the proposal until next year.

Mohammad Hassan Abutorabi, a member of the Majles presiding board, explained that the plan to extend the holiday required an extensive review. "Lawmakers had hoped to pass this bill this year so that the people could take advantage of [the three-day holiday] this year, but given the bill's review process, it is impossible."

The administration responded by extending the holiday via decree. Just one hour after Abutorabi issued his statement, First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi called a press conference and announced, "As lawmakers unfortunately did not reach an agreement on the Eid ul-Fitr holiday, the government reached the decision to make Saturday a holiday if Friday is announced Eid so that those who fasted can enjoy this holiday more."

Mohammad Reza Tabesh, head of the Majles minority bloc, voiced his objection to the decision: "We were not supposed to increase the number of holidays in the 'Year of Redoubled Work, Redoubled Effort,'" as designated by the Supreme Leader. Conceding that the executive branch had the right to declare holidays in the case of unexpected events, he added, "The government's decision is against the law as nothing extraordinary has happened to merit" a holiday.

While the extended Eif ul-Fitr holiday was welcomed by most Iranians and almost all government offices and military centers were closed, Majles employees did not acknowledge the decision and attended work as usual on Saturday.

Photo from a session of parliament last month.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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