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Iran's Guardian Council Rejects Presidential Powers Bill - 2003-05-09

Iran's clerical leadership has struck down a bill that would have given the country's president greater powers.

Iran's Guardian Council on Friday rejected the presidential powers bill, which had been introduced by President Mohammed Khatami. The council said the bill violated Islamic law as well as the constitution of Iran's Islamic Republic.

The bill would have given the president greater authority to challenge rulings handed down by the conservative judiciary.

The presidential powers bill was introduced in September along with another bill that would have limited the Guardian Council's power to screen election candidates. The council rejected that bill early in April.

Both bills are viewed as part of an effort by the president and his reformist supporters to limit the powers of the Guardian Council and its allies. The Guardian Council has the right to review all bills passed by parliament.

Though reformers are in the majority in Iran's parliament, their efforts to push for greater political and press freedom are often thwarted by hard-liners elsewhere in the government.

The Guardian Council, whose members are unelected, represents the hard-line policies of the Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Mr. Khamenei also has the support of the country's judiciary.

The Guardian Council and their supporters defend their policies by saying they holding up principles established by Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.