Khatami and Nuri keep the vote in the family
TEHRAN, Jan 28 (AFP) - The names of Khatami and Nuri, two of the most
prestigious in Iranian politics, will appear on the ballot for next month's
parliamentary elections, with their owners hoping to form a dynamic duo
to help push forward reform -- backing the policies of their elder brothers.
Mohammad-Reza Khatami, 40, and Ali-Reza Nuri, 36, have made their own
careers -- both are doctors -- far from the political arena, where they
are still novices.
But they revere their respective brothers -- the moderate president,
Mohammad Khatami whose reforms have been hampered at every step by a conservative
parliament, and the former interior minister, Abdollah Nuri, now in jail
for "anti-Islamic propaganda," and idol of all those who want
to "get things moving" in Iran.
"For those young people who elected Mohammad Khatami and who would
have liked to elect Abdollah Nuri to parliament, these brothers are the
duo with the winning ticket, even if they lack experience," said analyst
Mohammed-Reza will head the 30 names on the Tehran list of the Participation
Front, the left wing of the reformist faction and driving force of the
Khordad 2 Front -- the coalition named after the date in 1997 of the elder
Khatami's surprise election victory.
In such a position, he is sure of being elected.
Ali-Reza has no party allegiance, and could appear on a different list,
but both are ardent Khatami supporters, and likely to work closely together
in the future parliament, even if, as Nuri told AFP, "we do not have
complete identity of views on everything."
"A lot of people contacted us, Mohammad-Reza and me, to persuade
us to campaign jointly. We are very much in favour," he said.
Both point to polls indicating that Abdollah Nuri would have been "easily
elected" if he had not been tried and imprisoned.
"It was the jailing of my brother which made up my mind. Abdollah
encouraged me. It is a symbolic and political gesture, but also an emotional
one," Nuri said.
The Nuri name will be a help "but I cannot count on all those who
would have voted for him -- who would very likely have become speaker of
parliament -- voting for me," he admitted.
As he put it at a public meeting in southern Tehran, he wanted to speak
to "people who had turned up to see Nuri's brother, and others who
had come for Ali-Reza."
Both Nuri and Khatami are in no doubt as to what is at stake in the
"Until now, elections were held to consolidate the regime, and
competition was unimportant. This time, the result, whatever it may be,
will determine the future of the regime and the revolution," Mohammad-Reza
told a rally at Tehran university on Wednesday.
"Today there are two ways of looking at the Islamic Republic, religious
loyalty and freedom," he said. Ali-Reza agrees.
"If the reformers are elected, that will help the progress of reforms,
and help to get the country out of the political dead-end where it is now
stuck. But if it is the conservatives, which would be surprising, Mr. Khatami
will run into even greater obstacles for the rest of his mandate,"