Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000

There are 6 messages totalling 623 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran security body backed US ties weeks ago -paper
2. Iran's unique election
3. IRNA: election results from tehran to be announced with 24 hour delay
4. IRNA: rafsanjani says enemies are pinning worthless hopes on iranian
events
5. IRNA: latest tehran election results
6. Vote-rigging scandal mars Iranian poll

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 20:32:40 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran security body backed US ties weeks ago -paper

Iran security body backed US ties weeks ago -paper


BOSTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Iran's top security organisation voted unanimously
in secret six weeks ago to re-establish the country's diplomatic ties with
the United States, but the decision was apparently vetoed by Iran's supreme
religious leader, the Christian Science Monitor reported on Thursday.

The vote by the Supreme Council for National Security, Iran's top security
body, took place more than a month before last week's parliamentary
elections, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for reformers believed
to favour a rapprochement with the West, the newspaper said.

But the council's decision was apparently vetoed by Sayed Ali Khamenei,
Iran's supreme leader, who has the final say on all issues, the Monitor said.

The newspaper attributed its report to an Iranian source who knew two people
who attended the security council meeting. It published the story on its Web
site, www.csmonitor.com, on Thursday, and said it would run the article in
Friday's edition of the Monitor.

The Iranian parliamentary elections boosted reformist President Mohammad
Khatami, who won a landslide victory in 1997 but has had difficulty
implementing his agenda because of conservative opposition. Hardliners view
his programme as a threat to fundamental Islamic values.

The United States broke off ties with Iran in 1979 after a group of Iranians
overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444
days.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 21:17:08 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran's unique election

Iran's unique election


The reformists staged a lively campaign


By Jim Muir in Tehran

Iran's sixth general election has
produced a situation unique in the
Islamic Republic's 21-year history.

For the first time it has a legislature
committed to democratic reforms and
the creation of a civil society in tune
with a president dedicated to the
same goals.

"I'm so glad that I
lived to see this
day, and to vote in
a free election,"
said one elderly
Tehran resident,
thrilled at the
reformist victory.

She went on to
qualify the word
"free" as a relative
concept, given the
restrictions
imposed on
candidates.

They all have to demonstrate their
loyalty to the Islamic Republic and
swear allegiance to the system which
gives the Supreme Leader sweeping
powers.

Eliminated

Nearly 700 candidates were
eliminated by the selection process,
almost all of them from the reformist
camp.

But even so, there is no doubt the
elections were the most open since
the revolution. The eliminations were
nothing like as drastic as in the past.

This poll was
unique in other
respects too. For
the first time,
clearly identifiable
political parties
with lists of
candidates and
explicitly
formulated policies
were competing
for the 290 seats.

The effect of this
was immediately
clear in the
results. In Tehran
for example, all 30
seats were almost certain to be
decided in the first round of voting.

In the last election four years ago, 28
had to go to a run-off in a second
round.

For the same reason, the new Majlis
will contain much fewer independent
MPs than the outgoing one, because
many voters opted for the party lists.


Surprise

The pro-reform mood of the country
was clear long before polling began.

It was not created by President
Mohammad Khatami in May 1997. It
was already there, and lifted him to
office on a tidal wave that took him
and his advisers by surprise.

If there was any surprise in the result
of this general election, it was again
in the scale of the reformist victory
and the conservative defeat.

"Yes, the results
were better than
we were
expecting," said
Mohammad Reza
Khatami, the
president's
younger brother,
who spearheaded
the reformist
campaign.

"But not much. We
knew what was
happening in
Iranian society. So people outside the
country were more surprised than we
were."

Change

The other surprise which stunned
almost everybody was the magnitude
of the personal defeat suffered by
one of the towering figures from the
revolutionary past - Ali-Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Twice president, twice speaker of
parliament, he made the drastic
mistake of standing in the Tehran
constituency, and trailed
humiliatingly in 29th position in the
vote count.

He was the top candidate on the list
of all the rightwing factions.

His acute
discomfort aptly
symbolised how
much things have
changed in Iran in
the last few years.
It was an
indictment both of
his own
presidency, and a
clear signal to the
system in which
he has played
such a major part.

"I hope they get the message," said
one reformist sympathiser.

Rallies

There was no doubt that the 18
reformist factions grouped in the
umbrella "2nd of Khordad Front" ran a
much more effective election
campaign than the dispirited
right-wingers.

During the brief week that
electioneering was permitted, the
reformists staged many boisterous
rallies in addition to assiduously
canvassing in the universities and
colleges which are so important in
Iranian politics.

By contrast, the conservatives
managed only a few tame and
ill-attended election speeches and
public meetings.

The impression
they gave was
that they had lost
hope before they
even began. They
were certainly not
moving with the
times.

Their defeat will
leave them with
less than a quarter
of the seats in the
chamber.

Some of the more moderate
conservative deputies who lost their
jobs blamed poor election tactics.

Youth vote

But the roots of the rightwing
disaster ran much deeper than that,
deep into the demographics of a
rapidly changing society.

Those who lived through the Islamic
revolution 21 years ago are now a
minority.

A huge population bulge is just now
passing through their mid-teens,
hitting voting age, higher education,
and very soon, the job market.

This vast army of
young people
turned out in their
millions to vote for
the reformists.
Their very
existence
represents an
enormous
challenge to the
system.

Millions of women
too must have voted the same way,
hoping for the better lot that the
reformists promise.

Above all, this general election was
an adjustment of politics to
demographics. Under the rule of the
clergy-dominated right-wing
conservatives, the gap was becoming
dangerously big.

"This was the second warning signal
to those who do not care about
people and their ideas," said Fazel
Hamedani, a reformist candidate who
failed to win a seat.

Obstructed

Even in the spiritual heart of the
Islamic establishment, the holy city
of Qom, the leading vote-winner was
a reformist.

"The people's vote in Qom was a big
No to monopolists who thought they
could decide for the people without
consulting them,'' said Taha Hashemi,
one of the city's incumbent MPs who
lost his seat.

''The right-wing faction in the new
Majlis will have to adopt more
moderate positions."

Like President Khatami's election in
1997, these polls were an
unmistakable demonstration of
people power.

Despite his
overwhelming
mandate, Mr
Khatami has only
been able to score
limited
achievements
because of
entrenched
opposition from
hardline
conservatives who
hold many of the
levers of real
power, much of it unofficial,
unelected and unaccountable.

Now, at least, one of those obstacles
has been removed.

The outgoing parliament had
obstructed him wherever possible,
holding up legislation and impeaching
one of his closest associates, the
interior minister, Abdollah Nouri.

President Khatami can now count on
the co-operation of a Majlis in which
a clear majority will be held by his
own supporters - led by his brother,
who came out well ahead of the field
in the Tehran constituency.

Economy

This is both an opportunity and a
challenge. So far, the president has
been in office but not in power.

His supporters have blamed the
rightists for blocking him. Now the
onus is on him and his government to
perform - especially on the country's
dire economic crisis, which is
affecting everybody.

"The economy is in pretty bad shape.
People are going to expect this
parliament to organise itself and deal
with the economic issue," said Hadi
Semati, professor of politics at
Tehran University.

"So far, it's been all politics. The
reformists are going to be in a
majority, people are going to start
asking them to do a serious job.

"President Khatami will be in a
difficult position in the sense of
having actually to deliver on some of
the campaign promises that have
been made. The honeymoon period is
going to start eroding.

"They'll have to really get down to
work and put aside all the factional
infighting," he added.

For the moment, Mohammad Reza
Khatami and his colleagues in the
Islamic Participation Party envisage
early legislation to reform the
election and press laws, which have
been used by the rightwing against
reformists.

They insist all legislation will be in
line with the constitution, elements
of which have never, they say, been
properly applied.

Devastated

The right-wingers are at present
reeling from the blow. But it would be
naive not to expect them to regroup
and do their best to derail the reform
process by whatever means they can
muster.

"They have got many bases still: they
have the judicial system, all the
religious institutions, indirectly they
have influence on military forces, the
security apparatus - the contest is far
from over," said Hamid-reza
Jalaipour, a journalist who was
disqualified as a candidate.

But Mr Khatami Jnr and his colleagues
are hoping that the display of public
opinion will persuade those in
unelected power to bend with the
reformist winds.

They are also aware of the danger of
creating a backlash by trying to move
too fast.

"I think the reform will be done
gradually, step by step," Mr Khatami
said.

"You can see in the judiciary there
are already some reforms, and I think
public opinion will push all the
authorities to say yes to the
reformers."

No doubt there will be many
difficulties and crises ahead. But
there is no doubt that, with a
majority of reformists, fewer clerics,
and with the average age of deputies
going down by at least 15 years,
Iran's sixth parliament has come
closer to being in tune with the
realities and needs of Iranian society.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 23:03:39 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: election results from tehran to be announced with 24 hour delay

thr 048
election-results-delay
election results from tehran to be announced with 24 hour delay
tehran, feb. 24, irna -- the election results in metropolis tehran
will be announced with a 24 hour delay, director general of the
election headquarters at the interior ministry javad qadimi zaker
said on thursday.
zaker said the results were scheduled to be announced at noon on
thursday, but the executive board and the supervisory board decided
last night to recount 105 ballot boxes to make sure that there had
been no vote rigging.
he said the executive board took 50 boxes and the supervisory
board took another 55 ballot boxes to recount the votes.
zaker added that all votes from tehran, shahr-e-rey, shemiran,
northern tehran and islamshahr, southern tehran have been counted.
he predicted that final results will be released by late thursday
night or friday.
ss/rr
end
::irna 24/02/2000 17:05

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 23:02:48 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: rafsanjani says enemies are pinning worthless hopes on iranian
events

thr 050
iran-youth-rafsanjani
rafsanjani says enemies are pinning worthless hopes on iranian
events
tehran, feb. 24, irna -- chairman of the expediency council of the
islamic republic of iran ayatollah akbar hashemi rafsanjani said here
thursday that the enemies of the islamic revolution seem to be pinning
hope on current iranian affairs for their own benefits, but that their
wishful hopes is due to their disinformation about the hearts and
minds of iran's muslim youth.
addressing a festival of campus magazines published by university
students in 27 provinces, ayatollah rafsanjani said the enemies of the
country have their own illusions about the islamic iran due to their
inaccurate information about the religious faith of the iranian youth.
he appreciated the cultural works of university students who were
also members of the basij (volunteer forces).
hojatoleslam rafsanjani said the masses love the islamic
revolution, and that in terms of people's adherence to values and
revolutionary principles, today the islamic iran is better than
anytime before.
ss/hr
end
::irna 24/02/2000 19:26

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 23:07:12 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: latest tehran election results

thr 010
election-result
latest tehran election results
tehran, feb. 24, irna -- according to the interior ministry,
2,789,090 votes have been counted from 2,892 boxes (out of 3,111) in
tehran until wednesday night.
the following are the latest election results:
name vote percent
1. seyed mohammad reza khatami 1649005 59.12
2. jamileh kadivar 1261930 45.24
3. alireza nouri 1236421 44.33
4. seyed hadi husseini khamenei 1128958 40.47
5. mohsen armin 1119877 40.15
6. mohsen mirdamadi najafabadi 1085084 38.90
7. majid ansari 1074971 38.54
8. behzad nabavi 1046969 37.53
9. soheila jelodarzadeh 1041676 37.34
10. ahmad bourqani farahani 1035497 37.17
11. davoud soleymani 985871 35.34
12. ahmad pournejati 973444 34.90
13. elaheh koulaie 964735 34.58
14. vahideh alaie taleqani 963232 34.53
15. ali shakouri-rad 960381 34.43
16. mohsen safaie farahani 951985 34.13
17. seyed ali akbar mousavi khoeini 951536 34.11
18. mohammad reza saeedi 930980 33.37
19. fatemeh haqiqat-joo 904285 32.42
20. seyed shamseddin vahabi 901007 32.30
21. behrouz afkhami 889788 31.90
22. abolqasem sarhadizadeh 862927 30.93
23. mohammad naimi-pour 855412 30.66
24. mehdi karrubi 815464 29.32
25. fatemeh rakeie 814235 29.19
26. seyed mahmoud doaie 808675 28.99
27. rasoul montajabnia 707462 25.36
28. akbar hashemi bahremani
(rafsanjani) 693606 24.86
29. alireza rajaie 685974 24.59
30. elyas hazrati 682198 24.45
fs/ks
end
::irna 24/02/2000 11:02

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 00:49:55 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Vote-rigging scandal mars Iranian poll

Vote-rigging in 100 Tehran polling stations is suspected to have occurred in
last week's parliamentary election to ensure a seat for former president
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, election officials from the interior ministry
confirmed yesterday.
Final results were scheduled to be released yesterday at 12pm local time but
were delayed because of fears that votes had been faked in Mr Rafsanjani's
favour, officials said. Preliminary results had shown the former president
squeaking by in 29th place out of 30 seats from Tehran. But if vote-rigging
indeed occurred, Mr Rafsanjani could be forced into a run-off election in
April, a race he would probably lose.

At one polling station at the Teleqani mosque, sources said, 1,500 out of
1,800 votes were tallied for Mr Rafsanjani. In fact he received only 150
votes.

"Some ballot boxes are being recounted. Protests have been made against
alleged vote-rigging, especially in the south of Tehran," one interior
ministry official said. "The interior ministry is following up the case. God
willing, final results will be released by tomorrow [Friday] night."

Ballots at another 100 polling stations out of a total of 3,111 have yet to
be counted.

The parliamentary polls held on February 18 were celebrated as Iran's fairest
to date. Yesterday's news will cast a pall on a contest that the outside
world heralded as a great exercise in democracy.

Nearly all sides in Iran's political battle have an interest in Mr Rafsanjani
winning a seat. Reformers aligned with the moderate President Mohammad
Khatami admitted privately that they wished he had stayed out of the contest.
But once he entered the race, he became a necessary evil, they said.

His defeat would cause extensive hostility from his conservative backers whom
the reformers need to accommodate if they plan to push their policies through
the new parliament. Although reformers won a solid victory, they still need
the support of a variety of more conservative factions to pass legislation
for social and political change.

Thus, in the convoluted world of Iranian politics, both conservatives and
reformers have a keen interest in Mr Rafsanjani winning a spot in the
290-seat parliament.

In the weeks running up to the election, Mr Rafsanjani suffered merciless
attacks from reformers who accused him of numerous crimes, including turning
a blind eye to rogue intelligence agents who killed intellectuals while he
was president. Seminars were scheduled solely for the purpose of condemning
his legacy in post-revolutionary Iran.

His daughter, Faezeh, who also ran in the election, suffered a more serious
blow for her public defence of her father. Preliminary results showed her
placing in the low 50s. Four years ago, she came second.

Election officials have vowed to get to the bottom of the allegations. "The
officials in the interior ministry in coordination with Mr Khatami's policies
will not allow even one vote to be manipulated," said Mohammad Qadimi-Zaker,
the ministry's director general of elections.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000