Iran committed to reform: minister
TEHRAN, July 22 (AFP) - Iran 's interior minister insisted Thursday
the government would carry out President Mohammad Khatami's reform programme,
in a ringing defence of pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets
here last week.
"The government is determined to strongly proceed with its social
plans," said Interior Minister Abdol-Vahed Mussavi-Lari, a close Khatami
ally, a week after students clashed with security forces and Islamic hardliners.
He said opponents of Khatami's reforms had been disrupting "legal
gatherings" since the reformist president came to office in 1997.
"We should not put pressure on the people and limit their legal
freedoms under the pretext of maintaining security in the country,"
he said, implicitly blaming anti-reform hardliners for the violence.
Khatami's opponents were trying to "prevent the government from
fulfilling the promises made by Khatami as well as change the goals of
his plans," he said, quoted by the official IRNA news agency.
Islamic hardliners have called for Mussavi-Lari's dismissal after the
violence, the worst unrest here since the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic
Students as well as government reformers have repeatedly accused conservatives
of staging the riots in a bid to topple Khatami from power or block his
Conservatives have insisted the unrest was orchestrated by students
in the pay of foreign countries.