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Iranian leaders warn of new "plots"

TEHRAN, Aug 27 (AFP) - Iranian Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mussavi-Lari warned Friday of "new plots" against the government of President Mohammad Khatami aimed at showing its economic policy was a failure.

Meanwhile Khatami himself was quoted as advising students to be on their guard against attempts to cause further unrest like the troubles last month in which three people were killed.

"Be on your guard against new plots which are aimed particularly at showing that the government cannot satisfy the economic demands of the population", Mussavi-Lari said at Friday prayers at Tehran University.

"Some people in Iran want to unleash new crises, spread insecurity and insinuate that the government cannot resolve (Iran's) economic problems," he said.

"Some want to question the government's ability to satisfy the growing economic needs of the people and thereby reduce the government's room for manoeuvre," Mussavi-Lari charged, without naming names or giving other details.

He said the government was determined to resolve Iran's economic problems.

Leading figures, especially among the powerful conservatives, have been calling on the government for several days to concentrate more on the economic situation in the country.

Khatami is due to submit a five-year plan, which has already received supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's approval, based on 112 billion dollars in state revenues, more than half of it from oil.

The interior minister also referred to the "serial murders" at the end of last year of writers and secular opponents of the Islamic regime, which he said were directed against freedom of thought and expression and aimed at hindering the action of the government.

The Iranian intelligence ministry took the unusual step of admitting that "rogue" agents had been involved in the killings, which sparked a wave of outrage among reformers.

The military court handling the case said earlier this month that the "prime motive" was to "damage Iran's image abroad and isolate the country" as well as "weaken the authority" of Khamenei.

Mussavi-Lari did not specifically mention last month's unrest, when police and Moslem extremists attacked students protesting at the closure of a pro-reform newspaper, sparking six days of bloody riots in Tehran and the provincial capital of Tabriz.

Official figures said three people died and three were wounded in the worst unrest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, while moderate newspapers put the toll at five dead and dozens injured, many of whom they said were later abducted from Tehran hospitals by the secret police.

Some 1,400 people were arrested but a government inquiry blamed police incompetence for the disturbances, singling out seven senior officers and members of an anti-riot squad.

Mossavi-Lari said the government was determined that order and security should prevail in spite of the "plots" which threatened it.

"The future of the regime can only be assured through respect for the law," he said, adding that "all political factions of whatever tendency must act within the law."

Meanwhile the state news agency IRNA quoted Khatami as telling students to be "vigilant in the face of fresh agitation" and calling on those responsible for the recent unrest to be brought to justice." Speaking at a meeting Thursday with university rectors, Khatami warned,

"There are people who want to see agitation in the universities, which is why students and university staff must be vigilant, in the knowledge that the defence of demands must be made within the law and avoiding violence."

He again defended the results of the government inquiry, which has been criticised as "ambiguous" and "imprecise" by conservative religious and parliamentary leaders.

"Contradictory approaches in this matter are not acceptable", he said. "We must learn to experience both liberty and security."


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