Ahmadinejad inaugurates new legislative session in Iran

May 28th, 2008 - 12:21 am ICT by admin  

Teheran, May 27 (DPA) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated Tuesday the new legislative session of the Iranian parliament which will once again be dominated by conservatives. Conservative factions won almost 70 percent of the 290 seats in the March and April voting, with the rest going to reformists and independents.

Unlike the legislature’s previous four-year term, there is a division within the conservative camp this time. One group, headed by former speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel, still supports the president, but the other, led by former chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, is highly critical of Ahmadinejad’s policies.

The first test of strength between the sides came at an internal meeting Sunday and resulted in the Larijani faction wresting the post of speaker for their leader from the pro-Ahmadinejad wing.

Official voting for the position was scheduled to have taken place Tuesday, but was postponed after deputies left parliament to visit the shrine of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former supreme leader.

“The parliament and government should stand besides each other as both belong to the people,” Ahmadinejad said at the inauguration ceremony.

“Those who used to be political rivals should be brothers again,” he added, referring mainly to Larijani who left the Ahmadinejad administration as chief nuclear negotiator over differences with the president and has since become his critic.

Larijani’s faction is highly critical of Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, which have caused inflation to rise 20 to 30 percent despite the president’s promises of reforms for the middle and lower-classes.

“We should work together to settle the economic problems, but any poor decisions and bills would just push us back again,” the president said, referring plans by Larijani’s faction to block any government moves they feel would exacerbate the economic crisis.

Observers predict Larijani’s presence in parliament would only be for one year and that the 50-year-old would challenge Ahmadinejad in the presidential elections scheduled for June 2009.

“We are all aware that the people suffer from inflation but should adopt an Islamic solution for the problems,” the president said without elaboration.

Instead, he referred to unspecified “diabolic hands” that would provoke quarrels between parliament and government.

“During the one year (until the next presidential elections) we should cooperate. Having different standpoints is normal, but the most important thing is our common goals,” Ahmadinejad said.

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