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Tehran's new mayor vows to fight pollution

TEHRAN, June 6 (AFP) - Tehran's new mayor Morteza Alviri promised Sunday to put the fight against pollution and traffic jams in the Iranian capital at the top of his agenda.

Tehran, a city of 10 million, hemmed in by mountains, is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and is famous for its monstrous snarl-ups.

Some 75 percent of the pollution is thought to be caused by traffic.

Alviri was appointed last Tuesday to replace Gholamhossein Karbaschi, who started serving a two-year jail term on corruption and mismanagement charges in early May.

The new mayor told the municipal council he would ensure that in future the municipality's accounts would be "transparent" in order to rule out any possible accusations of bribery, the official IRNA news agency reported.

He also said he would work in "full coordination" with the municipal police, whose chief is appointed by Iran's conservative supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Alviri paid tribute to his predecessor's "great services" to the city.

Karbaschi -- a close associate of moderate President Mohammad Khatami -- and his supporters denounced his trial as a move by his conservative political opponents to weaken the Khatami government.

Alviri, 51, an electrical engineer in addition to being an economist, is a close associate of Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and is currently an advisor to Khatami.

The importance of the capital, home to one in six Iranians, makes the mayor one of the leading figures on the country's political landscape.

The city suffers not only from severe pollution, but also from widespread unemployment and unchecked expansion.


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