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Bill To Increase Iranian President's Powers Still Has Tough Battle Ahead - 2002-11-10

Iran's reform dominated parliament has passed a bill that would give the country's president the power to overturn decisions handed down by the hardline judiciary. But the proposal faces some tough hurdles before becoming law.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said the bill would enable him to better respond to the "aspirations of the people" who gave him landslide victories as president in 1997 and 2001.

Among other things, the bill would enable the president to overturn court and administrative decisions when he believes the constitution has been violated.

But the bill must win approval of the conservative-dominated Guardians Council. Political analysts said the Council is certain to reject it because such a law would require the watchdog group to limit its own powers.

During the past two years the Guardian Council has used its power to veto more than 50 bills aimed at achieving reform approved by parliament.

Conservatives in Iran control the judiciary, armed forces and broadcast media.

Hardliners accuse the president of seeking dictatorial powers. Mr. Khatami insists his reforms are needed to promote the establishment of democracy in Iran.