Mohajerani to quit after conservative pressure
TEHRAN, Oct 3 (Reuters) - An Iranian reformist minister, long under
siege by hardline conservatives who consider him too liberal, has handed
in his resignation to President Mohammad Khatami, a government official
told Reuters on Tuesday.
But Khatami has told Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ataollah
Mohajerani he must re-draft and moderate his 50-page resignation before
it can be accepted, said the source, who declined to be named.
Mohajerani's action is nevertheless a blow to Khatami, who has been
on the defensive against a conservative campaign beginning in April in
which some 25 newspapers supportive of his reforms have been banned and
a number of journalists jailed.
Surviving conservative newspapers have long been baying for Mohajerani's
blood, saying his ministry was to blame for allowing the liberal press
to briefly flourish and not stamping out ``Westoxification'' in books and
Khatami has long tried to shield Mohajerani from the attacks.
``He handed in his resignation. The letter was 50 pages long citing
all the different issues which have forced him to resign,'' said the official.
``But it wasn't accepted in that form and he was told to re-draft it.''
Khatami was swept to office in 1997 polls promising wide-ranging reforms
in the Islamic Republic. But with little to show for those promises, and
elections looming next May, Khatami is squeezed between the conservative
establishment and a youthful constituency impatient for change.
The official said that Mohajerani planned to re-submit his resignation
to the president after an Islamic conference of ministers of tourism in
the central city of Isfahan that ends on Wednesday.