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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 22 Oct 1998 to 23 Oct 1998 - Special issue

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 22 Oct 1998 to 23 Oct 1998 - Special issue
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There are 22 messages totalling 1214 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. NEWS98 - Many Tehran Polling Stations "Almost Empty", says Reuters
2. NEWS98 - Thatcher's Defense of Pinochet "Shamefull"
3. NEWS98 - High Turnout Cited as Reason for Elections Time Extension
4. UN making "good progress" in easing Iran-Taliban tension: envoy
5. Jordanian, Iranian ministers hold agriculture talks
6. Iran to be greater potential threat than Iraq: senior US general
7. UN reports serious human rights violations in Iran
8. Russian parliament votes to further develop links with Iran
9. General: Iran Has Force to Fight US
10. Three journalists with liberal newspaper released in Iran
11. Lebanon, Iran sign cooperation accords
12. Jobs vacant: Iranian seaside resort seeks mayor
13. Iranians urged to vote in key elections
14. Assembly of Experts has key role of choosing supreme leader
15. Iranian factions call for truce on eve of crucial vote
16. Lebanon, Iran sign accords on cooperation, flights
17. Iranians Vote in Key Election
18. Radio Free Europe broadcasts to Iran, Iraq from end October
19. Iran rejects UN criticism on human rights
20. Iranians head to the polls
21. Iran extends polling time for three hours
22. Iran keeps polling stations open to woo voters in key election


Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 18:57:53 GMT
Subject: NEWS98 - Many Tehran Polling Stations "Almost Empty", says Reuters

President Khatami Casts Shadow Over Iran Polls

Reuters 23-OCT-98

TEHRAN, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Iranian voters went to the polls
on Friday to elect a potentially powerful assembly of
Moslem theologians, in a race President Mohammad Khatami
said was weighted in favour of his conservative opponents.

The moderate Khatami called for a wide turnout in the polls
as he cast his own ballot for the 86-seat Assembly of
Experts. But he also took a swipe at the selection process,
which barred most of his progressive allies from running.

Under Iran's Islamic system, the Assembly appoints and
supervises the supreme leader, a senior Shi'ite Moslem
cleric whose temporal powers dwarf those of the elected

Assembly hopefuls were screened by a conservative-run
oversight board for their theological "competence," a
process that left the right with 80 percent of the
candidates on offer. Several prominent pro-Khatami
candidates withdrew in protest.

"Definitely, the number of competent figures is more than
what we have here," Khatami said after at a polling station
in Jamaran Mosque, once favoured by the late revolutionary
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"But still the possibility to select exists and there is
relative diversity," said Khatami, whose own platform of
social and political reform propelled him to victory last
year over candidates of the conservative clerical

Officials later extended the voting by two hours to 8 p.m.
(1630 GMT) to allow more people to vote. Results are
expected within 48 hours.

State media, under control of the conservatives, were
reporting a healthy turnout, with voters said to have
queued for hours in outlaying provinces.

Friday's polls exhibited none of the genuine popular
excitement that accompanied the Khatami landslide, and many
of the president's supporters-- particularly women and
young people-- were expected to stay at home.

A tour of Tehran polling stations by Reuters reporters
appeared to justify doubts about the size of the turnout.
Afternoon activity was no greater than that of the morning,
when many polling stations were almost empty.

At the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, reporters and poll workers
outnumbered voters. Elsewhere there was little evidence of
a large turnout of youth and women, Khatami's main

One Khatami supporter who did take part, 20-year-old Mehdi,
said it was important to endorse the Islamic system.

"We must vote to defend the system. If we diminish the role
of the supreme leader, we will be left with a democratic
system, not an Islamic one."

City streets were quiet, with groups of police-- 120,000 of
whom were on duty across Iran-- chatting idly in small

Fears of low participation among Iran's 39 million voters,
and its implied criticism of the Islamic system, have
impelled the conservative establishment to use all its
considerable power and influence to get out the vote.

"The enemies are trying to discourage people but the people
are alert and will participate in the elections," warned
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after voting at a
mosque near his official residence.

"My recommendation is that they cast their vote as soon as
possible so that we will have a good Assembly of Experts."

State media have been hammering away for days at the need
to vote as a "religious" and "revolutionary" duty.

The Assembly, say the conservatives, is central to the
system of Vali-e Faqih, whereby a supreme clerical leader
holds ultimate power within the republic.

Throughout the day, state television featured inspirational
footage of the 1979 Islamic revolution and subsequent
national achievements.

Live coverage from the holy city of Qom showed several
grand ayatollahs-- the highest rank in the Shi'ite clerical
hierarchy -- casting their votes after invoking the glory
of God and the Prophet Mohammad.

But with 130 of 161 candidates on the ballot from the
conservative camp opposing the overwhelmingly popular
Khatami, it was unclear how many would heed the summons to
the polls.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.All rights reserved.


Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 19:00:07 GMT
Subject: NEWS98 - Thatcher's Defense of Pinochet "Shamefull"

World: Americas
Thursday, October 22, 1998 Published at 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK

Allende's daughter attacks Thatcher

Baroness Thatcher: A friend of the general

The daughter of the late Chilean President Salvador Allende
has described Baroness Thatcher's call for the release of
General Augusto Pinochet as "shameful".

Isabel Allende, whose father died in the 1973 coup in which
General Pinochet seized power, said she thought the former
prime minister's intervention was "incredible, incredible

Her sharp response came as lawyers for the general
challenged the warrant used to arrest him in London. A High
Court hearing has been adjourned until Monday.

In an interview with French radio, the Chilean socialist
senator said she believed the general "was not only my
father's murderer - in the metaphoric sense of the word, of
course - but he was also the murderer of our democracy and
of our institutions.

"Unfortunately, because of him, many Chilean families
suffered a great deal - this is why I think it is important
that justice should be done."

Human rights abuses

Ms Allende spoke out after Baroness Thatcher - who served
the general tea at her London home two weeks ago - wrote to
the Times to demand that UK authorities immediately release
the former dictator.

General Pinochet remains under guard at the private clinic
in London where he was arrested on Saturday while
recovering from a back operation.

He was held after Spanish judges investigating the
disappearance and murder of Spaniards during the former
dictator's rule between 1973 and 1990 made a preliminary
request for his extradition from the UK.

Lady Thatcher said he should be set free because his regime
had helped the UK during the 1982 Falklands War against
Argentina and so saved many British lives as a result.

She said there were abuses of human rights in Chile and
acts of violence on both sides of the political divide
after the 1973 coup which overthrew the
democratically-elected Allende government.

However, the people of Chile had decided how to come to
terms with their past, she went on.

"An essential part of the process has been the settlement
of the status of General Pinochet and it is not for Spain,
Britain or any other country to interfere in what is an
internal matter for Chile," she said.

Ms Allende said: "I think it is shameful that she should
have such arguments. This also shows that she cannot deny,
she cannot show that there were no crimes and no torture.

"Therefore, the only argument she can give is that he
helped her during the war, but she cannot say that the
crimes did not happen."

Political row

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has also condemned the
actions of the Pinochet regime.

However, he and the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook insisted
that the decision to detain the general was a judicial
matter not a political one.

The Conservative MP David Wilshire, a member of the Commons
foreign affairs select committee, backed Lady Thatcher's
intervention as "absolutely right".

He said: "I'm quite delighted that somebody has spoken out
and opened up a debate so that we can examine the Blair
government's incompetence and double standards in all of

He said Mr Blair was happy to "cosy up" to left-wing
dictators during his recent visit to China.


Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 19:04:44 GMT
Subject: NEWS98 - High Turnout Cited as Reason for Elections Time Extension


elections time extended by one hour

tehran, oct. 23, irna -- election time for the third term of the
experts assembly elections extended by one hour.
according to latest reports the polling stations would close at
21:00 hours local time (17:30 gmt).
polling started at 08:00 am local time and was supposed to last
until 18:00 pm (14:30 gmt). in the first step it was extended for two
hours until 20:00 hours local time (16:30 gmt).
voters' high turnout has been cited as the reason for the
::irna 23/10/98 20:25


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:15:01 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UN making "good progress" in easing Iran-Taliban tension: envoy

TEHRAN, Oct 21 (AFP) - The United Nations in making good
progress in easing tension between Iran and the Taliban Islamic
militia, the UN special envoy for Afghanistan said here Wednesday.
Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters before departing after a one-day
visit that the Taliban was "actively searching to find and punish"
the militiamen who killed Iranian diplomats in August.
"Good progress is being made in defusing tension between Iran
and the Taliban," he said.
The arrest and punishment of the killers of the diplomats has
been Iran's main condition before it agrees to talk to the Taliban,
which now controls 90 percent of Afghanistan.
Brahimi, on his second visit here this month, had expressed the
hope that his talks in Tehran will help reduce tension between
Shiite Moslem Iran and the Sunni Moslem Taliban sparked by the
killing of the diplomats in August.
Iran has massed tens of thousands of troops on its border with
Afghanistan while the Taliban has deployed 30,000 on the other side
of the frontier.
But Brahimi said Iran was "not enthusiastic at the moment to
talk to the Taliban," until the militia abides by UN resolutions and
declarations by the so-called "Six plus Two" group.
Both the United Nations and the "Six plus Two" which groups
Russia, the United States and Afghanistan's six neighbors including
Iran -- have called on the Taliban to negotiate peace with other
Afghan factions for a broad-based government.
Taliban leaders have said they are ready to meet Iranian
officials in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the permanent seat of the
Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) which is currently
chaired by Iran.
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, in a meeting earlier with
Brahimi, thanked the UN envoy for helping to secure the release
Iranian prisoners in Afghanistan.
The Taliban freed 25 Iranians last week after Brahimi visited
the central Afghan town of Kandahar.
It had earlier released 25 other Iranians in batches through
mediation involving neighbouring Pakistan, a principal supporter of
the Islamic militia.
But Kharazi said the Taliban was still holding one Iranian
prisoner and called for his immediate release.
He said his country was pleased with the "present pace of
achievements," but called on the Taliban to abide by UN resolutions
and by calls by the "Six plus Two" last month.
"Iran will do its utmost to realise the demands of the world
community," the minister said.
Brahimi left here for the Uzbek capital Tashkent to start a
Central Asian tour which will also take him to Tajikistan and
Meanwhile a US official said that his country had agreed to meet
with a senior Taliban official Wednesday to discuss terrorism,
tensions with Iran and representation at the United Nations.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:15:42 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Jordanian, Iranian ministers hold agriculture talks

AMMAN, Oct 21 (AFP) - Jordanian Agriculture Minister Mejhem
Khreisheh and his Iranian counterpart, Issa Kalantari, met here
Wednesday to discuss boosting cooperation in their field, the
official Petra news agency said.
The two drafted an accord on exchanging agricultural expertise
and agreed to trade olive and palm trees.
Jordan agreed to supply Iran with 150,000 olive saplings over
the next three years while Iran said it will provide Jordan with
20,000 palm trees during the same period.
The Iranian minister said his country wants to import more
Jordanian phosphates and potash -- Jordan's main exports.
Agricultural activity accounts for about six percent of
Jordanian gross domestic product (GDP) and about 26 percent of
Iranian GDP.
In a later meeting with Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan ibn Talal,
Kalantari relayed a message from Iranian President Mohammed Khatami
inviting the crown prince to Iran, Petra said.
Prince Hassan said Jordan was intent on continuing to develop
relations with Iran.
Kalantari also met Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh.
Jordan's relations with Iran have improved significantly in the
past year with a number of visits by government ministers and the
reopening of a direct air link between Amman and Tehran.
Diplomatic relations were re-established in 1991 after a 10-year
suspension stemming from the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war in which Jordan
supported its neighbour, Iraq.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:15:23 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran to be greater potential threat than Iraq: senior US general

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 (AFP) - Iran will be a greater potential
threat than Iraq in the future, the senior US general in charge of
Gulf security planning and operations said Wednesday.
"In the longer term, Iran is the greater threat," General
Anthony Zinni, the commander-in-chief of the US Central Command,
told reporters.
He said the most important factor to watch in assessing Iran is
the uncertain political fight currently underway in Teheran between
moderates and hardliners.
"If the hardliners stay in charge, we're going to see in some
period of time ... a country having weapons of mass destruction
capability," Zinni said, adding that in that scenario Iran might
also continue to support terrorism.
He noted that Iran also has a "very effective Navy."
"I think Iran is one of those countries that looked at the
Iran-Iraq war (and) the Gulf war and made some clever decisions," he
"They don't invest heavily in the ground forces ... They put
high investments in the things that they realize could give us the
most problems at least in the short term."
Among other defense systems Iran has invested in are missiles,
missile-carrying naval patrol boats and more and more advanced
submarines capable of laying mines in the Gulf, Zinni said.
"They created ... an asymmetrical force it would be very
difficult to deal with even on the conventional side, not impossible
but it would take a while because those are the kind of things it
could give us the most problems in the region and could close the
Gulf or do something like that," he said.
He added that the closure of the Gulf would be "the worst-case
By contrast Iraq, the general said, has a conventional army that
has not been modernized since the Gulf War and which has reportedly
been reduced by half since 1990.
As to Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, Zinni said
if Baghdad had them, they would be "very rudimentary."


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:15:35 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UN reports serious human rights violations in Iran

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 21 (AFP) - "Significant violations" of human
rights continue in Iran despite some progress, a UN report published
Wednesday said.
Maurice Copithorne, special representative for the UN Commission
on Human Rights, said in a report that leaders of the Islamic
Republic had shown themselves willing to move towards a "more
tolerant and more peaceful condition".
But "there is still a long way to go to reach a tolerant
society," he said.
In particular, Copithorne, who was unable to visit Iran to
document the evidence for himself, criticised the treatment of
women, religious minorities such as Baha'i followers, and the slow
pace of legal reforms.
Between January and August 1998 the status of women in the
Republic had not improved significantly he reported.
According to foreign wire services, young women continued to be
harassed on occasion by Tehran police for failing to conform to the
strict Islamic dress code.
A press report in February also revealed that stricter dress
codes had been introduced along with penalties of three months to
one year in prison, fines and up to 74 lashes.
Copithorne pointed out that he had "repeatedly pointed out the
grossly offensive manner in which the dress code is on occasion
enforced" referring to "whippings and worse."
With regard to legal reforms, the report criticised a law
adopted by the Majlis -- the Iranian Parliament -- in May enforcing
compulsory segregation of health care services for men and women.
The law came under attack for compromising the care of women and
girls because of the lack of trained female physicians and
professionals to meet their needs.
The president of Iran's Society of Surgeons resigned over the
issue and 1,200 doctors are reported to have signed an open
statement of protest, the report said.
On the question of the religious Baha'i sect, Copithorne called
on the Iranian authorities to drop the death penalty for religious
offences; to lift the ban on the Baha'i organisation so that Baha'is
could associate freely and to end discrimination against them in
public life and services.
However, Copithorne also noted that there were "promising signs"
notably official recognition of the use of torture, and prison
He said that he had witness testimony of "extreme physical
abuse" at detention centres in Tehran, but noted that the Islamic
Human Rights Commission had recently taken allegations of torture
And he cited Iranian newspaper reports that 10 or 12 suits had
been filed against the security forces for torture and physical and
psychological violence.
There had been "tangible" progress in the area of freedom of
expression, the report observed, but it was often a case of "two
steps forward, one step back."
With regard to the British novelist Salman Rushdie, who was the
subject of a fatwa condemning him to death for blasphemy, he
confined himself to citing a deal between Tehran and London.
The Iranian government pledged not to execute the fatwa in
September but several religious authorities have said that the
decree is "irrevocable" and have even raised the reward for carrying


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:17:23 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Russian parliament votes to further develop links with Iran

MOSCOW, Oct 21 (AFP) - The Duma, the Russian parliament's lower
house, voted Wednesday to develop the country's ties with Iran,
despite a decision by the United States to cut aid to Russia unless
it ceases nuclear cooperation with Iran.
"The Duma believes it is exploit more fully
the potential for military and technical cooperation between Russia
and Iran in order to support the national economy," said a text
approved unanimously by 267 deputies.
There were no abstentions on the vote.
The text said US attempts to interfere in "mutually
advantageous" relations between Iran and Russia were "illegal and
The US House of Representatives voted Tuesday to adopt an act to
cut aid to Russia by 50 percent until it ceases to develop a nuclear
reactor and other nuclear programmes linked to the development of
nuclear or ballistic missiles.
The act still requires the support of the Senate and President
Bill Clinton's promulgation.
The US goverment has for years put pressure on Russia to force
it to break off its nuclear links with Iran, which it fears is using
Russian assistance to develop an atomic bomb and long-range
In July, the Russian government began an investigation into nine
Russian companies accused of breaking Russian law by assisting
Iran's weapons programme.
The United States in turn applied sanctions on seven of the


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:17:39 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: General: Iran Has Force to Fight US

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Iran has built a naval force in the Persian
Gulf designed to hit American forces there in vulnerable spots, the
senior U.S. military commander in the region says.
Gen. Anthony Zinni, head of the U.S. Central Command, said
Wednesday that Iran has purchased fast-attack patrol boats, very
accurate anti-ship missiles and mine-laying submarines that form
``a very good asymmetrical force that would be difficult to deal
``They put high investments in those things that could give us
problems,'' said the four-star Marine Corps commander.
The general said the Iranians have also embarked on a program to
develop nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, and he
predicted it could reach fruition in five years.
Given such a program, Zinni argued that Iran ``will be a more
significant problem than Iraq. ... In the longer term, Iran is a
greater threat.
``If I were a betting man, I would say they are on track within
five years, they would have the capability,'' Zinni said of the
Iranian nuclear program.
The general said he agrees with having the United Nations,
rather than Washington, take the lead in the ongoing debate over
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. That means Saddam has
been unable to make the issue an Iraqi-U.S. contest, Zinni said.
While Saddam has not been able to modernize his forces since the
end of the Gulf War, Iran has forged ahead, he added.
The Marine general described Iran's program to develop nuclear
weapons and the means to deliver them as worrisome, particularly
given India and Pakistan's move into the nuclear club this year.
Speaking with a group of defense writers, Zinni said Iran ``is
not going to be that far behind their neighbors. They are on track
to do it.''
``I would worry about a region that is going in the opposite
direction than the rest of the world,'' Zinni said. ``We have a
band of countries ... that we need very desperately to get into a
some sort of counterproliferation regime.''
While forces of moderation exist in Iran, Zinni said, it is not
at all clear that they will overcome hard-liners who advocate
exporting terrorism and building weapons of mass destruction.
President Mohammad Khatami, who took office in August 1997, is
considered a moderate. Hard-line elements in the government oppose
relatively liberal reforms he has tried to introduce.
``If that moderation movement would take hold, it really would
have a significant effect in the region to lessen the threat,''
Zinni said.
``If hard-liners stay in charge, we're going to see ... a
country that has weapon-of-mass-destruction capability, a country
that still supports terrorism, a country with hard-liners and
extremists in charge. That would be difficult.''
Iran's military took lessons from the Persian Gulf War and
devised a ``clever'' naval program to modernize certain weapons
that could give the more massive U.S. military forces particular
problems should another conflict break out, the general said.
A year ago, Zinni said, every night he ``went to bed worrying we
would have a confrontation at sea'' because of a ``very hostile,
very aggressive'' Iranian navy.
But since Khatami's election, a more polite and professional
attitude has taken hold among Iranian naval forces, Zinni said. But
there has been no change in Iran's support for terrorism or
construction of mass destruction weapons, he said.
The general lambasted reported congressional plans to fund
opposition groups to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Congress has authorized $97 million to fund military efforts by
groups bent on ousting Saddam.
``The danger here is, I don't see a lot of viability in the
opposition groups,'' Zinni said.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:17:54 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Three journalists with liberal newspaper released in Iran

TEHRAN, Oct 22 (AFP) - Three journalists with the banned liberal
newspaper Toos have been freed on bail, more than a month after
being arrested on charges of acting against Iran's national
security, newspapers reported Thursday.
Toos managing director Mohammad Javadi Hessar, humor columnist
Ibrahim Nabavi and editor-in-chief Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (eds:
correct) were released late Wednesday, the papers said, citing
Tehran's justice department.
They were arrested on September 16 along with Hamid-Reza
Jalai-Pour, the head of the board of directors of Jameeh-Ruz, a
mother company for Toos.
Jalai-Pour was released on bail a week ago following an appeal
by his mother to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The four were all accused of endangering "national interests and
security" following the publication of an interview with former
French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing in which he said the late
founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had
asked for political asylum upon arrival in France in 1978.
The government insists no such application had ever been made.
Toos, which first appeared in February under the name Jameeh
(Society), was one of many new papers to be published under the
relatively easier press regulations that followed last year's
election of President Mohammad Khatami, and the appointment of
moderate Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani.
The paper's witty and often audacious material soon made it one
of the most widely read afternoon dailies, often sold out at stands
despite its relatively high price.
It also became a prime target of conservative ire. Conservative
personalities, including Khamenei, have time and again issued
warnings against the "abuse" of freedoms by "certain papers."
In an about-turn, Mohajerani welcomed the reformist daily's
closure, in an apparent concession to increasingly vocal
conservative pressure.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:18:04 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Lebanon, Iran sign cooperation accords

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Lebanon and Iran have signed three
accords to boost economic cooperation and encourage investment between
the two countries.
The accords were signed by visiting Iranian Minister of Housing and
Urban Development Ali Abdolalizadeh and Lebanon's Minister of
Agriculture Shawki Fakhoury and Minister of State for Financial Affaires
Fouad Seniora as part of the two-day meetings of the Joint Higher
Economic Committee.
Fakhoury said the first accord provides for exchanging agriculture
products and expertise, with Iran offering to back Lebanese farmers by
granting them special prices in return for Lebanon exporting fruit to
the Persian state.
He said the agricultural agreement was the first between the two
countries since Lebanon's 1943 independence.
Seniora, for his part, said another accord to avoid double-taxation,
which will go into effect once it is ratified by the Lebanese and
Iranian parliaments, is aimed at encouraging investments and boost
economic cooperation.
Under the terms of the transportation accord, Lebanon's national
carrier, Middle East airlines, is to resume flights to Tehran at the
beginning of 1999 while Iran's airliner is to follow suit later on.
Abdolalizadeh said the accords signed today constitute a ``giant
step'' in consolidating economic ties with Lebanon and called on
Lebanese businessmen and industrialists to cooperate with Iran's private
sector to establish joint projects in both countries.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:18:17 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Jobs vacant: Iranian seaside resort seeks mayor

TEHRAN, Oct 22 (AFP) - A popular seaside resort in northern Iran
put an advertisement in a local paper to find a new mayor, a first
in the Islamic republic, press reports said Thursday.
Twenty-three people answered the advertisement for the post in
Ramsar, a once-grand resort town on the Caspian Sea that lost its
luster through neglect after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The English-language Iran News said Ramsar authorities had found
their ideal mayor through the advert, a first in Iran where
governors and mayors are generally appointed by the interior
The paper hailed the measure as "a first step towards
meritocracy in our society," saying it was in response to growing
public demand for an "effective administrator rather than a
Tehran's prominent mayor Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, who was
renowned for his administrative abilities, was put on trial earlier
this year and suspended from his position for alleged embezzlement.
The charges were widely dismissed as a political campaign
against the moderate mayor by powerful conservative officials.
Ramsar was the site of Iran's only major casino built by
associates of the former pro-US shah to attract tourists.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:18:29 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranians urged to vote in key elections

TEHRAN, Oct 22 (AFP) - Iranian leaders have called for a massive
turnout in Friday's election of the body which chooses the country's
supreme leader, but many fear a low participation given the
rejection of many candidates.
Iranians over the age of 16 will be eligible to vote for the 86
members of the Assembly of Experts, a key legal and religious body
charged with overseeing the performance of the Vali-e-Faqih, or
supreme leader, a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Prominent religious and political personalities have joined the
official media in calling for "massive" participation, hoping for a
repeat of the spectacular 88 percent turnout recorded in the May
1997 presidential vote.
Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, was elected president with
70 percent, or 20 million votes, in that election, mainly benefiting
from the support of the young and of women.
About 39 million people are eligible to vote in Friday's
The official campaign, spearheaded by the state broadcasting
organisation, has been all the more vigorous to overcome a seeming
general apathy and mounting criticism of the disqualification of
many hopefuls, most of whom were Khatami supporters.
Voters have been told that voting amounts to a "sacred duty" and
a "punch in the jaw of Islam's enemies."
"Men, women and especially the young must go and vote to ensure
the disappointment of the enemies of Islam", Khamenei, the supreme
leader, told a public meeting on Wednesday.
The president has more demurely called for "enthusiastic
participation," while criticising the authorities "for not having
created conditions needed to encourage a large number of candidates
to present themselves."
In expectations of a low turnout, some officials have been
insisting that the legitimacy of the Islamic regime will not be
affected by the level of voter participation.
"Our regime gets its legitimacy from God. The legitimacy of the
regime does not necessarily lie with the people," said the
conservative speaker of parliament, Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nuri. "Those who
say the legitimacy of the leader depends on his popularity do not
understand it."
Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, the moderate former mayor of Tehran
agreed: "The legitimacy of the Assembly of Experts is not subject to
the number of people who vote," he told the British newspaper the
Candidates for Friday's election were tightly screened by the
Council of Guardians, exclusively empowered to approve suitable
candidates on the basis of their ability to interpret religious
tenets and their firm allegiance to the regime.
The Council of Guardians approved 167, less than half, of 396
people who had signed up to stand in the race.
Most of those approved were prominent members of the
conservative clergy and supporters of Khamenei -- groups which
already dominate the assembly.
Nine female and 40 secular candidates were among those rejected,
as well as a considerable number of new-thinking young clerics. The
radical left faction, which along with the moderates tends to
support the president, has been left with barely a dozen
But the moderates, led by the Servants of Construction party,
have decided to field candidates, through criticizing the "unfair"
race. They have backed 56 approved candidates, with nearly half of
them also supported by the Qom-based conservative Association of
Koranic Seminary Teachers.
In contrast to relentless media publicity, electioneering on the
ground consists of little more than posters scattered around Tehran
containing portraits of mostly unknown candidates accompanied by
their slogans and credentials.
The most outspoken opposition to the Council and the elections
has come from the illegal but barely tolerated liberal opposition
Freedom Movement of Iran, which has called for a boycott.
The next Assembly of Experts, it said in a communique signed by
156 of its members, will be "a rubber stamp chamber charged with
preserving the status quo."
Whatever the level of turnout, the government has been preparing
all-out for the election, implementing extensive security measures
and setting up 39,000 voting stations nationwide. Some 10,000
officials have been charged with overseeing the vote count.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:18:43 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Assembly of Experts has key role of choosing supreme leader

TEHRAN, Oct 22 (AFP) - Iran's Assembly of Experts, which is to
be chosen in a nationwide vote on Friday, is an Islamic parliament
responsible for electing or ousting the country's supreme leader.
A total of 86 presumed "experts" on political and religious
matters will be elected to the assembly, which is charged with
upholding the political supremacy of the Velayat-e-Faqih, or
religious authority in Iran.
Iranian leaders and the official media have urged the public to
turn out en masse amid controversy over the selection procedures for
There have been strong protests over the disqualification of
many reformist candidates on the grounds that they did not meet the
regime's moral, religious and political criteria.
The Assembly is charged by Article 107 of Iran's constitution
with selecting the supreme leader from a number of eminent religious
candidates who meet the necessary conditions for political and
religious leadership.
But it also has the right to oversee the performance of the
leader, a post currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and oust
him if they so decide.
The Assembly's most marked role is to supervise the supreme
leadership, a religious and political office with enormous powers at
the summit of the Islamic Republic's political structure.
The leader occupies a pivotal position as head of the armed
forces and has the authority to appoint a number of officials
including the head of the judiciary. He is able to intervene in
practically all areas through his personal representatives.
Ayatollah Khamenei was selected as leader by the first Assembly
in 1989 following the spectacular dismissal of Ayatollah Hossein Ali
Montazeri, the designated successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,
the founder of the Islamic Republic.
The outgoing assembly, the second, was elected in 1990 amid
controversy between left-wing radicals and the conservative-led
government over selection procedures.
At that time, all prominent radical candidates, including the
current president, Mohammad Khatami, were eliminated.
The assembly is currently headed by Ayatollah Meshkini, the
conservative Friday prayer leader of Qom, a holy city in central
Iran, with former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani serving as
The law allows the Assembly to make all amendments to
regulations governing its work. It has no permanent seat and meets
once a year for two to three days.
The assembly last met in February in Mashad, an important centre
for pilgrimage in northeastern Iran, but it most often convenes in


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:18:59 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian factions call for truce on eve of crucial vote

TEHRAN, Oct 22 (AFP) - Rival political factions in Iran appealed
for unity on Thursday on the eve of crucial elections for the
Assembly of Experts, a pillar of the Islamic republic which appoints
the supreme leader.
"Tomorrow is the day of national hope, when factions within the
regime put aside their own desires and views for solidarity and
unity," said the centrist Asr-e-Azadegan daily.
"With their votes, people will draw a red line on months of
negative propaganda by arrogant powers," the paper said, as
campaigning wrapped up after two weeks.
Leaders of official media have waged an intense campaign
appealing to 39 million eligible voters -- aged 15 and above -- to
elect on Friday 86 representatives to the assembly and display their
support for the regime.
"Even those who may have grudges (against the authorities)
should not hesitate about taking part because the enemy may be
tempted to take advantage of the differences," said Jomhuri Islami,
a hardline newspaper.
It was referring to leftist supporters of President Mohammad
Khatami, many of whom have been rejected as candidates for the
assembly on the grounds that they do not meet the regime's religious
and moral criteria.
Several leftist clerics have pulled out of the race and at least
two organisations have refused to field candidates in protest at the
disqualification of their allies by the Council of the Guardians
(COG), a conservative clergy-controlled body which oversees
elections in Iran.
But many moderate and leftist newspapers urged the factions to
put aside their dispute and think about the country's future,
although continuing to criticize the selection process, which they
charge favored the conservatives.
Khatami himself has criticized the rejection of some candidates,
but pleaded for an "enthusiastic" turnout.
"The door to a free choice is not closed. There is still some
varieties. If you pay attention, you will see there are a diversity
of views and tendencies," he said.
Despite a virtual boycott by the left, Khatami's moderate
supporters have decided to participate as a fair number of their
candidates have been approved.
"At a time when foreign propaganda seeks to discourage people,
we in the country should not move in the same direction," said
Gholam-Hossein Karbaschi, Tehran's suspended mayor, general
secretary of the moderate Servants of Construction Party.
He said his faction was supporting "the more rational and
insightful candidates who could improve or change the existing
regulations and create a better condition to regain the rights of
In a move which could ease factional tension, the
conservative-led judiciary released from jail three journalists of
the banned liberal Toos newspaper, a little over a month after they
were arrested for acting against national security.
Their arrest provoked sharp criticism from Khatami's supporters,
who have been lobbying for the rule of law and freedom of
But some fear a low voter turnout, given the rejection of more
than half the potential candidates, including nine women and 40
laymen who had applied to stand for the first time for the assembly,
which has hitherto been controlled by male clerics.
Some conservatives have warned that a low turnout would not
affect the legitimacy of the regime and the leader, which they argue
is derived from God.
According to Zan (Woman) newspaper, turnout for the first
Assembly of Experts election in 1982 was 80 percent but slid to less
than 40 percent in 1990.
Whatever the turnout, the government has been preparing all-out
for the election, implementing extensive security measures and
setting up 39,000 voting stations nationwide. Some 10,000 officials
have been charged with overseeing the count.
The interior ministry said mobile ballot boxes would be provided
on demand for people who can not visit a polling station.
The ballot centers will open at 8:00 a.m. (0430 GMT) and stay
open until at least 6:00 p.m. (1430 GMT).


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:19:09 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Lebanon, Iran sign accords on cooperation, flights

BEIRUT, Oct 22 (AFP) - Lebanon and Iran signed three agreements
Thursday on agricultural and economic cooperation and the opening of
direct flights between Tehran and Beirut.
Lebanese Agriculture Minister Shawqi Fakhury and Iranian Housing
Minister Ali Abdolali Zadeh signed an accord to boost agricultural
cooperation and trade, with Zadeh saying his country could reduce
the price of its exports to Lebanon by 30 percent.
Fakhury told reporters that Iran would provide Lebanon with
irrigation and animal resource technology.
Zadeh signed an agreement with Lebanese Finance Minister Fuad
Saniora allowing Lebanon's Middle East Airlines to start direct
flights to Tehran at the beginning of 1999.
The date for direct services to Lebanon by Iran's national
carrier would be set later, Saniora said.
The two ministers also signed an accord preventing double
"These agreements are intended to strengthen economic relations
between the two countries in the interests of Lebanon and Iran," he


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:19:37 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranians Vote in Key Election

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranians voted today for a key assembly that
is expected to be dominated by hard-line clergymen who favor
unhindered powers for the country's supreme leader.
The election for the 86-member Assembly of Experts is the most
important in Iran apart from the presidential race because the
assembly elects the country's supreme religious leader, who has the
final say in government matters.
Few voters were seen in the first hour after polls opened this
morning in the country's 28 provinces. The streets of Tehran were
largely deserted and security personnel -- among the 100,000
deployed nationwide -- lounged on street corners, talking to each
Among the first to vote was supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, the successor of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who
led the 1979 Islamic Revolution to install the rule of Shiite
clergy in Iran.
``The people should rush to the polling stations as soon as
possible,'' Khamenei said after casting his vote. His comments were
broadcast simultaneously on state-controlled Iranian radio and
The lack of competition has led to fears of a low turnout from a
disappointed public, and even hard-line newspapers estimated that
only about 39 percent of the 38 million eligible voters will show
``I am not very familiar with the candidates but I hope things
in the country will get better,'' said Mitra Qaemaqami, a housewife
clad in a brightly colored head scarf. She was among the 30 people
waiting to vote at a mosque in the capital.
Her husband, Farhad, chipped in: ``We want to have a say in our
destiny. I will vote for somebody who will have some kind of
influence over the (supreme) leader.''
A total of 161 candidates -- about 130 of them conservative
clerics -- are running for the assembly, whose job is to oversee the
work of the supreme leader.
But the hard-liners had won the battle even before the polls
opened: A conservative supervisory council that vetted a list of
396 prospective candidates rejected most moderates, leaving only
about 30 in the fray.
In practice, the supreme leader has the final say in all
matters, and the hard-liners want to keep it that way. Moderate
clerics led by President Mohammad Khatami are calling for more
accountability from the supreme leader.
Khatami, who was also among the early voters, said the decision
to bar many moderates had all but decided the election results.
``Definitely, there could have been more qualified people than
were allowed, but nonetheless we still have a chance to choose our
favored candidates,'' said Khatami, who drove to a polling booth at
a mosque in northern Tehran dressed in the clergy's black robe and
A low turnout could be seen as a rebuff of the hard-line
policies of Khamenei. Hoping to prevent that, conservative
clergymen exhorted people this week to exercise their ``divine
duty'' at the polls.
Voter disinterest would also be in sharp contrast to the 1997
presidential election when 20 million people voted for Khatami,
whose one-year-old effort to ease the social, political and media
restrictions imposed by the Islamic Revolution has pit him against
the hard-liners in an intense power struggle in the ruling clergy.
Despite popular backing for Khatami's work, the hard-liners have
refused to ease their grip over Iran's key institutions such as the
judiciary and security agencies.
First official results are not expected until Saturday.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:19:51 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Radio Free Europe broadcasts to Iran, Iraq from end October

PRAGUE, Oct 23 (AFP) - Controversial US-funded radio broadcasts
to Iran and Iraq from a radio station in Prague are due to begin at
the end of October, the spokesman for the Czech foreign ministry
said Friday.
The Farsi-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to
Iran and the Arabic service to Iraq has concerned officials in the
Czech republic who fear the station could be a terrorist threat.
The new service will beam one hour of news reports, interviews
and analysis to Iran daily. A similar service destined to Iraq will
begin broadcasting about three weeks after the launch of the Iranian
Both Tehran and Baghdad protested to Prague about the
According to press reports, the radio service will operate out
of the former federal parliament of the former Czechoslovakia in the
centre of the capital Prague.
However, Jan Obrman, the director of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty, said he could neither confirm nor deny the foreign affairs
ministry statement about the start of the broadcasts.
Earlier this year, there was some question about whether the
Czech Republic's new government, which took office after June
elections, would approve the broadcasts.
It was approved by the previous conservative Czech government,
but the new government was less happy about the project.
RFE/RL was launched during the Cold War and was aimed at the
Soviet bloc in particular. It moved its headquarters from Munich to
Prague in 1995.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:20:03 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran rejects UN criticism on human rights

TEHRAN, Oct 23 (AFP) - Iran blasted on Friday a UN report
charging that the Islamic Republic continues to significantly
violate human rights, especially those of women and religious
Foreign ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi said the report
issued Wednesday was "incompatible with realities and current
developments" in Iran.
The UN Commission on Human Rights report acknowledged that
improvements have been made since the 1997 election of moderate
President Mohammad Khatami, but said Iran has "still a long way to
go to reach a tolerant society."
"Significant violations" of human rights were continuing, it
The report said Iran violates the rights of women and religious
minorities, such as members of the Baha'i sect, and criticized the
slow pace of legal reforms.
But Mohammadi accused the United Nations of exploiting the human
rights issue for political ends, adding this goes against the UN
"Political experts believe that ... the report contains claims
which do not go with current realities in Iran, indicating that
there is a kind of political confrontation against human rights,"
the official IRNA news agency said.
Iran has long maintained that it follows Islamic principles on
human rights. Mohammadi said Iran aimed to improve various aspects
of human rights on the basis of its "people's religious and cultural
On a positive note, the UN report welcomed official recognition
of the use of torture, and prison reforms.
The UN report coincided with the release Wednesday of three
prominent journalists detained since September, following the
closure of their paper by the judiciary.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:20:22 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranians head to the polls

TEHRAN, Iran, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The Iranian news agency IRNA says that
election officials in Iran have ordered that polls remain open for an
extra hour, due to what it calls ``massive'' voter response to national
assembly elections.
The turnout was expected to be lower after the government
disqualified many moderate candidates, but today Islamic clerics across
the country urged people to vote. The BBC says the turnout started
slowly and increased slightly throughout the day.
Many conservative candidates were assured of victory because the
Council of Guardians, which decides who may run, vetoed many moderates.
The elections were for the Assembly of Experts, the group of senior
clerics that chooses or dismisses Iran's supreme Muslim leader, who is
currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran's reformist, moderate President Mohammed Khatami won a landslide
victory last year, but the Council of Guardians rejected many of his
supporters who wanted to run in this election.
The council's decisions prompted some street protests. Many moderates
called for a boycott of the election, but some told Iranians to at least
vote for the few moderates who made it onto the ballot.
There are 167 candidates running for 86 seats in the assembly.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:20:12 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran extends polling time for three hours

TEHRAN, Oct 23 (AFP) - Polls in Iran will remain open for an
extra three hours to give voters more time to cast their ballots for
the Assembly of Experts, which selects the country's supreme guide,
the interior ministry said.
Voting, which started at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT), was extended until 9
p.m. (1730 GMT).
Earlier, the ministry kept polling stations open for two more
hours to allow "those who have been unable to go to the polls within
the set period" the opportunity to vote.
Iran's 39 million eligible voters aged 16 and over have
repeatedly been urged to turn out for the elections for the
86-member body, which has the power to hire and fire the country's
supreme leader.
A total of 167 pre-screened candidates, mostly little-known
conservative clerics, have been allowed to run, 35 of them competing
for 16 seats in Tehran.
The limited choice of candidates had fuelled official fears of
that there would be a low voter turnout.
The government has set up 39,000 voting centers across the
country in addition to vans bringing ballot boxes to people's homes.


Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998 01:20:31 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran keeps polling stations open to woo voters in key election

TEHRAN, Oct 23 (AFP) - Iran extended polling hours for Friday's
key Assembly of Experts election in a bid to woo voters amid
controversy over the rejection of many reformist candidates.
Polls were kept open an extra three hours as Iranian leaders
made appeals to the electorate's patriotism and national pride in an
effort to get voters to cast their ballots for the 86 members of the
assembly, which is charged with appointing the country's supreme
"For the Iranian nation, this is like a scene of fully-fledged
battle against the enemy. Our intelligent and aware people will act
in the interest of the country and not succumb to the enemy," said
current supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei as he cast his vote.
He was appointed supreme leader in 1989 by the first Assembly of
"Every vote is like an arrow in the heart of the enemies of the
revolution, and a blow to the hostile mouth of arrogant powers,"
Grand Ayatollah Nuri Hamedani said.
But while top religious leaders and respected sages have filled
the nation's television screens in recent days, calling on the 39
million eligible voters to to perform their "religious and political
duty," there have been strong protests over the disqualification of
many potential candidates.
The Council of Guardians, which supervises the nation's
elections, approved fewer than half of the potential candidates,
disqualifying 229 of the 396 people who applied to run because they
allegedly did not meet the council's moral, political and religious
Most of those rejected were reformers close to moderate
President Mohammad Khatami, while most of those approved were
prominent members of the conservative clergy and supporters of
Khamenei -- groups that already dominate the assembly.
The most well-known candidate this year is former president
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is vice-president of the current
Nine women and 40 laymen were among those banned from running
for the assembly, which has been the exclusive preserve of male
clerics since its creation in 1982.
The disqualifications led several leftist clerics to pull out of
the race while at least two organisations refused to field
candidates in protest.
Khatami, shown on television casting his vote, sought to
downplay the controversy while urging citizens to participate in the
"The number of qualified people in our country is definitely
more than this, but there is still a relative diversity of choices,"
he said. "If there are any problems, they can be solved through a
debate among ourselves."
The president pledged "political reform and formation of parties
to pave the way for a better public presence in elections," adding:
"Political reform and the presence of people will strengthen the
The Council of Guardians reported "massive turnout" at the
polls, according to the state news agency IRNA, which said voting
stations would remain open until 9 p.m. (1730 GMT).
Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari, who is close to
Khatami, said that the participation rate was "adequate" based on
the number of voters at polling stations in the morning.
Witnesses said turnout was fairly modest in Tehran.
Although a few long lines snaked in front of some Tehran
stations, a polling official in the town of Shahriar who asked not
to be named said that while voters were appearing regularly there
had not been enough for queues to form.
Voters knew little about the candidates and were simply voting
for names they recognised, said the official, adding that they were
motivtaed by "a sense of responsibility to help put in place a
political structure for electing future leaders of the country."
He added that turnout was below numbers in the May 1997 poll
that brought the moderate Khatami to power, an election that saw
large numbers of the country's youth casting their ballots.
The Zan (Woman) newspaper said this week that turnout for the
first Assembly of Experts election in 1982 was 80 percent but slid
to less than 40 percent in 1990.
Some conservatives have warned that low turnout would not affect
the legitimacy of the regime and the supreme leader, which they
argue is derived from God.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 22 Oct 1998 to 23 Oct 1998 - Special issue