Date: Aug 26, 1999 [ 0: 0: 1]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Aug 1999 to 25 Aug 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Aug 1999 to 25 Aug 1999
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There are 6 messages totalling 378 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran's Khatami under pressure to improve economy
2. Tehran police chief sacked over student raid
3. OFFICIAL: EVERY IRANIAN ABROAD MUST FEEL PROUD OF OWN NATIONALITY
4. Iran's supreme leader gives unprecedented support to Khatami
5. 'iran daily' hopes shahroudi will reform the judiciary
6. Iran paper calls for live TV debates before elections

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Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:25:55 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran's Khatami under pressure to improve economy

Iran's Khatami under pressure to improve economy

By Mehrdad Balali

TEHRAN, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mohammad Khatami is coming
under growing pressure to shift attention from political and social
reform and address the country's troubled economy, plagued by recession,
inflation and unemployment.

A year after Khatami unveiled an economic recovery plan, his
administration has yet to show meaningful results. This has exposed the
president to mounting criticism from the public and his political
rivals, although he remains widely popular.

Ministries and state agencies are vying to show economic progress during
the current ``Government week,'' held annually to bring government
performance to public attention.

The government has pledged to produce more impressive gains during the
third five-year development plan, beginning in March 2000, when the new
economic programme is to be implemented.

Iran's parliament will soon begin debating the plan, which calls for
greater foreign investment and privatisation, reducing red tape and
dependence on oil by boosting non-oil exports.

But slight gains claimed by the government in some sectors have failed
to reassure a public witnessing a steady decline in living standards,
with no sign of an end to recession.

Khatami's conservative opponents blame his preoccupation with liberal
political and social reforms for the lack of progress on economic
issues, with some seizing the opportunity to force him to retreat on his
reform plans.

``The people's biggest preoccupation is economic problems, which have
been overshadowed by political issues,'' said the conservative Society
of the Islamic Revolution's Veterans.

``The government has not paid enough attention to the economy and there
is no balance between political and economic reform,'' it said in a
statement published in newspapers on Wednesday.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Khatami's government on
Tuesday to give higher priority to economic woes.

``The main priorities are to create employment, stop or reduce
inflation, address economic recession and the national currency's
value,'' he said. ``A simple look at the people's lives will leave no
doubt about what the main issue is.''

According to official statistics, inflation rose to 20 percent in the
year to March 1999, and unemployment stands near 15 percent. Independent
economists say both figures are higher.

Iran needs to create 800,000 jobs per year for the booming young
population, a daunting task as the private sector shows little desire to
invest. The economy remains heavily dependent on oil, creating
uncertainties about the country's future.

Khatami said on Tuesday that his government would aim for an annual
growth rate of six percent during the next five years, and try to bring
inflation down to 13 percent.

But these promises have inspired little enthusiasm in a country mired in
ideological and factional disputes.

``The government has taken new initiatives on the political front, but
we do not see anything new on the economic front,'' said Tehran
University economics professor Ebrahim Razaqi.

``As long as the government does not adopt a new line, its own unique
model based on the realities of our society, successes are only
relative,'' he told Reuters on Wednesday.

Some analysts say Khatami is handicapped by the limited powers of his
government, dwarfed by those of the supreme leader, and efforts by his
powerful opponents to undermine his attempts to improve relations with
the West.

``As long as other factions sabotage his policies of openness in
international relations, he will not be able to do much,'' economist Ali
Rashidi told Reuters.

Conflicting views within Khatami's own administration have also
contributed to the lack of economic progress. Newspapers have reported
disputes within the government between advocates of market reforms and
those faithful to a centralised economy.

``Some of the ministers in Khatami's cabinet are not his choice. He had
to take them to please parliament,'' Rashidi said.

Ayatollah Khamenei called for ``harmony and cohesion'' in the government
and urged cabinet members to submit to the will of the president.

``You should all be members of a single unit. No one sector should try
to weaken the other sectors,'' he said.

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:24:41 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Tehran police chief sacked over student raid

FOCUS-Tehran police chief sacked over student raid 08:22 a.m. Aug 25,
1999 Eastern

TEHRAN, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Iran has sacked Tehran's police chief, blamed
for a police attack on student dormitories that provoked some of the
worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

State television said Brigadier-General Mohsen Ansari was introduced at
a ceremony on Wednesday as the new head of the capital's police,
replacing Brigadier-General Farhad Nazari.

Newspapers said Nazari had been sacked after an investigation found him
responsible for the police attack on the Tehran University student
dormitory in July.

An investigative committee of Iran's Supreme National Security Council
(SNSC), the country's top security body, said in the report earlier this
month that Nazari and several other security officials would be
prosecuted over the attack.

Riot police and hardline vigilantes attacked the dormitory complex after
a peaceful pro-democracy student rally against the banning of a key
moderate newspaper, injuring more than 200 students.

At least one person died in the attack, and others remain unaccounted
for.

The attack led to a series of protests by angry students which
culminated in major street riots in Tehran and scattered violence in
other cities, the country's worst since the aftermath of the revolution.

Security forces and Basij paramilitary militia restored order after the
riots, in which state banks, public buildings and vehicles were set on
fire.

The SNSC report said police commanders at the scene failed to follow
orders from Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari, an ally of
moderate President Mohammad Khatami, who had sought a peaceful
resolution to a stand-off between police and demonstrators.

Mousavi-Lari nominally heads the police who ultimately answer to supreme
leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is widely seen to be closer to
conservatives and hardliners opposed to Khatami's programme of political
and social reforms.

The report said some of the hardline vigilantes would also have to stand
trial for their role in the dormitory attack.

Hardline officials have blamed the unrest on dissidents backed by
foreign states. Moderates have also condemned the violence but insisted
that those responsible for the attack on the dormitory should be
prosecuted.

The television said Ansari would assume the new post while keeping his
position as deputy national police chief.

Student protesters have been demanding the sacking of the national
police chief Brigadier-General Hedayat Lotfian.

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:26:48 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: OFFICIAL: EVERY IRANIAN ABROAD MUST FEEL PROUD OF OWN NATIONALITY

tehran, august 25, irna -- general director for cultural affairs of
iranians residing abroad mohammad reza darbandi here wednesday said the
government aims to see every single iranian, wherever in the world and
with whatever way of thinking, be proud of being iranian.

speaking to irna on the second day of the 'government week', darbandi
said given the sensitivity shown by the leader and the president towards
status of iranians living abroad, special facilities have been provided
in the past two years for over three million iranians who live in 20
countries worldwide.

he pointed to the launching of jaam-e jam tv network, opening of the
general department for cultural affairs of iranians abroad at the
islamic culture and communications organization, facilities for travel
of iranians to and from iran and 75 percent reduction in charges for the
issuance of passports as being among the said measures.

stressing that only a meager percentage of iranians abroad have
difficulty with the islamic republic system, darbandi said the rest are
living overseas for reasons such as education, trade, employment or lack
of tolerance for wartime hardships and its subsequences.

according to darbandi the number of iranians residing in the united
states amount to 1.2 million while those living in britain, france,
germany, canada and australia come next on the list respectively in
terms of population.

the official further added that iranian migrants are typically a source
of pride for the country as they possess certain qualifications which
distinguish them from other nationalities.

he praised cultural activities of iranians abroad and said so far the
iranians have organized 600 gatherings on such subjects as persian
language, identity, women and cinema outside the country, adding that
they are now equipped with 400 registered centers and associations, 500
publishing institutes and 250 radio stations and tv networks.

darbandi said that the result of a research study conducted in the
united states shows that loyalty to the persian language, pride over
their nationality, religious attachments, respect for parents, honoring
national occasions, hospitality and respect for marriage are among
family values which are highly observed among iranians living abroad.

he said given the sublime goal of the islamic republic of iran in
preserving national and religious identity of iranians abroad, the
general department for cultural affairs has taken specific steps in this
connection.

darbandi pointed to the holding of celebrations on specific religious
and national occasions, screening films on the 20-year achievements of
the islamic revolution, organizing gathering to review problems of
iranians residing abroad, sending books to national libraries in
different countries on iran's culture and civilization and organizing
iran tours for iranian students who have not yet visited the country are
among programs of the department.

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:27:25 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran's supreme leader gives unprecedented support to Khatami

Iran's supreme leader gives unprecedented support to Khatami

August 24, 1999 Web posted at: 10:23 PM EDT (0223 GMT)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader gave
unprecedented support to President Mohammad Khatami on Tuesday, saying
he was capable of handling all aspects of government.

The tribute from the hard-line Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the reformist
president came weeks after conservatives attacked Khatami for his
initial tolerance of the mass student protests last month.

"Thank God, Mr. (Mohammad) Khatami, the honorable and dear president, is
competent and qualified to handle all government responsibilities,"
Khamenei told a Cabinet meeting according to the official Islamic
Republic News Agency.

Khamenei called on government officials to put factionalism aside and
fully back Khatami's policies, the agency said in a report received in
Dubai.

Since he took office in 1997, Khatami has been locked in a power
struggle with Iran's hard-line clerics over democratic reforms.

Conservatives have used their position in the judiciary to close several
moderate newspapers and arrest journalists. When pro-hardline vigilantes
and police stormed a Tehran student hostel on July 9, killing one person
and seriously wounding 20 others, they provoked a week of mass protests
in the capital and eight other cities.

The government took no action for several days against the protesters --
many of whom chanted support for Khatami and called on Khamenei to quit.
It then banned the demonstrations and instructed the police to disperse
the protesters.

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:28:22 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: 'iran daily' hopes shahroudi will reform the judiciary

thr 002 press-judiciary
'iran daily' hopes shahroudi will reform the judiciary
tehran, aug. 25, irna -- in its wednesday issue, the
english-language 'iran daily' hopes that ayatollah hashemi shahroudi's
taking charge of the judiciary will help improve the administration of
justice nationally and make good on previous pitfalls, if any, in the
system. it says in light of more recent developments in the country it
is necessary that the judiciary fulfill its tasks in the manner expected
of it, and referring to ayatollah shahroudi's meeting with president
hojatoleslam mohammad khatami last wednesday, says in part: "what mr
shahroudi told president mohammad khatami last wednesday lends extra
weight to his determination to overhaul the justice-dispensing apparatus
of the islamic state, whose constitution states that the 'judiciary is
an independent power which must restore public rights, promote justice
and legitimate freedoms.' "in the meeting the chief judge talked about
'many commonalities between us' and said, 'development in the judiciary
is necessary because political success partly depends on judicial
advancement.' "in emphasizing the natural relationship with and impact
of international development on the judiciary's independence and
advancement, mr. shahroudi did not seek to minimize the importance of
working closely with the khatami administration. "a strong, free and
independent judiciary is the right of iranians and all those who have a
working relationship with the islamic state. with all that which
unfolded on the socio-political and, very importantly, the economic
scene inside the country for almost a decade of mr. yazdi's leadership
of the judiciary, it is incumbent that this key institution stand up to
its grave tasks. the message must be clear to all those who think laws
are made to be broken. it is absolutely necessary that our people be
convinced of safety and security, not to mention the significance of the
new judiciary in upholding justice irrespective of class, color, creed
and political affiliations." hr/hm end ::irna 25/08/99 01:12

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 00:28:57 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran paper calls for live TV debates before elections

TEHRAN, Aug 25 (AFP) - An Iranian newspaper on Wednesday urged state
television to broadcast live debates between leading scholars to help
voters make better choices in next spring's key parliamentary elections.

The Iran News also said conservative-dominated state television has
"shied away from the clash of ideas" and that its programming has "not
been able to quench the public thirst for more accurate and impartial
information."

The idea of live television debates has become "the topic of the day,"
the paper said, noting such broadcasts would help the public "cast an
educated vote and elect the best-qualified candidates" in February's
polls.

Such debates were common in the early days after the 1979 Islamic
revolution but were discontinued in a bid to maintain national unity
during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, it said.

Iran's state television and radio are largely dominated by
conservatives, who were handily defeated in last spring's first-ever
municipal elections.

But many of the candidates were unknown to voters when they went to cast
their ballots.

Reformers and moderates are trying to end the conservative majority in
parliament in the February elections, seen as a crucial test for the
reform agenda of President Mohammad Khatami.

Since Khatami took office two years ago he has eased curbs on the press,
resulting in a flowering of newspapers and magazines.

But a conservative-led crackdown has closed three leading pro-Khatami
dailies since the beginning of the year and dozens of journalists have
been arrested or brought in for questioning.

The closure of the pro-Khatami paper Salam last month set off student
demonstrations that erupted into six days of riots after protesters were
attacked by security forces and Islamic hardliners.

The judiciary, also dominated by the regime's conservatives, earlier
this month presented a draconian draft bill that could make many forms
of free speech subject to possible prosecution as crimes against the
state.

The measure outlaws "any contact or exchange of information, interviews
or collusion with foreign embassies, organisations, parties or media, at
whatever level, which could be judged harmful to Iran's independence,
national unity or the interests of the Islamic republic."

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Aug 1999 to 25 Aug 1999
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