DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Jun 1998

There are 6 messages totalling 293 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Nouri's Impeachment a Step Towards Civil Society
2. Khatami Concerned Over Contents of Jame'eh
3. Gozaresh-e Ruz Publisher Under Detention
4. Impeachment, Trial Overshadowed by WC98
5. Gozaresh-e-Ruz Publisher Arrested - AP
6. Paper Calls for Free, Diversified Press

Nouri's Impeachment a Step Towards Civil Society

Iran News June 13, 1998


The Impeachment, a Move Toward Political Development?

More than 30 Majlis deputies have proposed the impeachment of Interior Minister, Hojjatoleslam Abdullah Nouri. The proposal was approved by the Majlis and is scheduled to take place within 10 days. It is said that impeachment was proposed when the interior minister failed to satisfactorily answer a series of questions raised by the MPs regarding the ministry's performance. According to the Majlis rules and regulations, if deputies ask any minister to answer questions on his ministry's performance and the questions are left unanswered or the MPs find the answers unsatisfactory, the deputies can propose the impeachment of the minister, provided that at least ten deputies demand it. Hojjatoleslam Nouri has been summoned to the Majlis on a number of occasions and has answered the deputies' questions. But it seems that the deputies are determined to exercize their right to initiate impeachment proceedings against the minister. The most likely questions during the impeachment of Hojjatoleslam Nouri would include the ministry's issuance of "permit to assemble" during the past few months. Some of these gatherings turned violent. Another issue that could possibly be raised during the impeachment is the interior minister's orders for changing of some of his deputies. It is also likely that the minister will be questioned about his support for the Tehran Mayor, Gholamhussein Karbaschi. Observers hold that these two issues may be the main driving force behind the impeachment move. As long as there has been an Iranian Parliament, there has also been friction between Majlis deputies and the interior minister. On the one hand it is always the ministry's representatives, namely the governors and governors-general, who supervise elections throughout the country. This is something that directly affects all members of Parliament. On the other hand, MPs feel obliged to answer the queries of their constituents on any new appointments and dismissals of governors and governors-general by the Interior Ministry. This is, again, something that has a direct impact on the Mps and their responsibilities. However, observers point out that Nouri is the first minister in the Cabinet of President Seyed Mohammad Khatami who faces impeachment. Moreover, they believe that despite the above-mentioned historical reasons, the impeachment is somehow politicized. Supporters of the interior minister believe that this is the first major challenge issued by the opposition to the government of President Khatami. If the opposition wins this challenge, observers believe that there is every chance that the next Cabinet member to be impeached will be the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Attaollah Mohajerani. The crisis, then, will not come to and end with the impeachment of one or two ministers and will continue to extend to others. Meanwhile, the opposition believes that impeachment is the legal right of the MPs and must not be considered as a political tool. They also maintain that if what they call `extremist moves' such as granting "permits to assemble" by the ministry are not stopped, the society may face dangers in the future. However, the deputies' approach vis-a-vis the impeachment and the logical stance of the government, which was to accept the motion, are indicative of the fact that instead of resorting to unconventional moves and the use of pressure groups, Majlis deputies have resorted to legal channels to achieve their goal. This is the first step toward the creation of a civil society. Furthermore, the proper management of the affairs by the Majlis officials on the day of the impeachment will be an indication of the country's political maturity. Correct reactions by the country's mass media regarding the impeachment will certainly prove their maturity too.

Press Review

* Most of the newspapers on Thursday commented on the question of the interior minister's impeachment by the members of Parliament. The pro-government dailies termed the impeachment idea a political move to weaken the government. They said the MPs decision to grill the interior minister simultaneously with the Tehran mayor's trial, was another reason for their political motivation. On the other hand, the right-wing dailies said the call for Abdullah Nouri's impeachment was in the interest of the government as it would terminate the activities of the interior minister whom they described as a cause of tension and insecurity in the country. A right-wing MP told Hamshahri in an interview that he was fair and for the same reason opposed the impeachment of the interior minister. The unnamed MP said he had told the other MPs demanding the minister's impeachment. He said,"I know that the only reason you are doing this is because some of the right-wing elements have been dismissed from the offices of governors and governors general." Salaam claimed that the aim of the impeachment was the "heart of President Khatami" not the person of the minister. The right wing Abrar daily said Nouri was an influential member of the Executives of Construction and believed in elimination of the supervision of the Council of Guardians in the elections. The paper said the interior minister's impeachment (and his subsequent dismissal) as well as resignation of the culture and the Islamic guidance minister would help the Cabinet ministers become homogenous. Mohammad Reza Bahonar, right-wing MP, told the daily Resalat that the interior minister's impeachment was necessary for restoration of stability and tranquillity to the society. The right faction believes that the interior minister's mismanagement over the past one year has caused insecurity and tension in the country.

Khatami Concerned Over Contents of Jame'eh

FARDA * Commenting on revoking of Jameah daily's license, the paper said, "In a recent meeting with members of the Unity Consolidation Office (UCO), President had voiced concern over the performance of the daily. Also earlier, the President had issued a warning to the culture and the Islamic minister regarding the contents of the paper."

Gozaresh-e Ruz Publisher Under Detention

QODS * The paper said in its "Special News" column that Ali Mohammad Mahdavi Khorrami, the licensee and director in charge of Gozaresh-e Ruz daily, is under detention for the paper's repeated violations. After publishing 15 issues, the newly launched daily was suspended for running a false report that Iranian leaders were taking huge amounts of money out of the country.

Impeachment, Trial Overshadowed by WC98

ETTELA'AT * Ataollah Mohajerani, minister of culture and the Islamic guidance, in a short article in Ettela'at, commented on the coincidence of the Tehran mayor's trial and beginning of the World Cup and closure of the universities. "A certain political wing, realizing the great popularity of the President and the government, was looking for an opportunity to overshadow the interior minister's impeachment and distract public attention toward the issue."

Gozaresh-e-Ruz Publisher Arrested - AP

Iran Newspaper Editor Arrested

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The publisher of a liberal Iranian newspaper accused of unethical reporting was arrested after he failed to show up in court, newspapers reported Saturday.

The popular new Gozaresh-e-Ruz, or Daily Report, stopped publication last week after the Press Supervisory Board charged it with violating press ethics.

Mohammad Mahdavi Khorrami, the newspaper's publisher, was arrested Wednesday, Qods newspaper quoted a Tehran judiciary spokesman as saying.

The action against Khorrami is seen as a setback on press freedom, which has burgeoned under moderate President Mohammad Khatami since he took office in August.

Conservative elements in the government, particularly in the judiciary, oppose his policies.

The Farsi-language newspaper started publishing only last month. On its third day, it printed a front-page color picture of a teen-age boy with a teen-age girl wearing a head scarf. The caption read: ``Friendship Under Fear.''

Iran's strict Islamic code prohibits dating and its constitution forbids the media from propagating ``anti-Islamic attitudes.''

The Culture Ministry warned the newspaper to respect the press law, the English-language Iran News reported.

One of Iran's most popular newspapers, Jameah, had its license revoked last week after its editor was convicted of defamation. The paper has said it will appeal the sentence.

AP-NY-06-13-98 1521EDT

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.

Paper Calls for Free, Diversified Press

thr 005 press-democracy ''free press, the standard-bearer of democracy'': daily tehran, june 13, irna -- the english daily 'tehran times' saturday wrote that the press is the 'standard bearer' of democracy and added ''in order to prepare a congenial ground for our democracy to flourish, our collegues in the print media in iran must abide by rules and regulations.'' the article was referring to the banning of the daily 'jame'eh' after its managing director hamid jalaie-pour was put on an open trial. in the absence of political parties in the country, newspapers play a very crucial role in enhancing people's awareness, stated the daily, adding that a free press is in fact the main bulwark against mismanagement, corruption, squandering of national wealth, nepotism and other socio-political malices. however, every newspaper has certain rights and duties which must be strictly adhered to. ''if publishers of a newspaper are not aware of their rights and duties, they will neither enjoy their rights nor will they perform their duties properly.'' therefore, a diversified press is vitally needed, recommended the paper, adding that democracy cannot flourish in the absence of a diversified press. ''through functioning within the framework of law, the press can become the prime protector of democracy while by violating rules and regulations it will undermine democractic processes,'' stressed the paper in conclusion. fh/jh end ::irna 13/06/98 11:11

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Jun 1998