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Khomeini Strips Top Council Of Some Powers

December 31, 1988

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Saturday stripped some powers from a high- ranking council established in February to speed up Iran’s decision-makin g process, Tehran Radio reported.

Following criticism from parliamentary deputies and other radicals that formation of the 13-member Expediency Council was unconstitutional, Khomeini declared that it will no longer be allowed to legislate independently of Parliament.

The official radio, monitored in Nicosia, said Khomeini urged a return to constitutional law now that the need for a speedy decision-making process has decreased since the Aug. 20 cease-fire in the war with Iraq.

The Mujahedeen Khalq, or People’s Holy Warriors, the main Iranian opposition movement, said in a statement that Khomeini’s move underlined that ″the ruling clique’s internal conflicts are intensifying.″

Khomeini set up the Expediency Council 10 months ago, while the war was still raging, to resolve differences between the radical-dominated Parliament and the 12-member Council of Guardians, which is dominated by conservative clerics and screens legislation to determine if it conforms to Islamic law.

The Expediency Council, a mix of reformists and conservatives, included senior political figures such as President Ali Khamenei, Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani and Prime Minister Hussein Musavi as well as six members of the Council of Guardians.

The Council of Guardians had repeatedly blocked sweeping reforms that would give the government tight control of the economy and redistribute land, much of it held by the clergy.

Soon after it was formed, the Expediency Council began independently ratifying a number of laws on its own, including one ordering the death sentence for drug traffickers.

It takes effect Jan.21.

The radio said Khomeini decreed that bills already passed by the Expediency Council will remain in force.

″Beyond that, action must only be taken in cases where there are differences between the Majlis (Parliament) and the Council of Guardians,″ Khomeini said.

He called on the Council of Guardians, composed of six clerics and six legal experts, to ″be more broad-minded in vetting Majlis legislation so that it would not require further consideration by the Expediency Council.″

″While the Guardians must prevent any un-Islamic bills from becoming law, they should make full efforts to ensure that in the economic, military, social and political realms, Islam is not discredited and accused of being unable to manage the world,″ he said.

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