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Morteza Alviri, former radical turned liberal technocrat

TEHRAN, June 1 (AFP) - Tehran's new mayor, Morteza Alviri, is a former radical revolutionary who now advocates a liberal course for the Islamic Republic, particularly in the economic sector.

Alviri, a 51-year-old electrical engineer and economist, was an active opponent of the imperial regime of the Shah overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

He served several prison terms for his activities with the armed revolutionary "Fallah" organization battling the Pahlavi dynasty.

After the Islamic Revolution, Alviri became a member of the first Revolutionary Committees made up of Islamic militants and a commander of the Revolutionary Guards, the Pasdaran.

Elected a member of parliament, he became an active member of the assembly and president of the parliamentary commission on industry and mines.

The former radical was a close associate of former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani when Rafsanjani served as parliament speaker between 1981 and 1989.

Alviri was considered the key figure on budget and economic debates in parliament and on parliamentary committees during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

He also represented parliament on the powerful economic council charged with defining the broad economic policies of the country.

A member of the so-called radical faction which held power until 1990, Alviri and some 60 other radicals were ousted by conservatives during the 1992 parliamentary elections.

Alviri and a number of other former radicals have come under fire from the conservatives for their sympathy for dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the disgraced former designated heir of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The end of Iran-Iraq war and the revival of economic activity in Iran under the presidency of Hashemi-Rafsanjani in the early 1990s saw Alviri transformed into a supporter of foreign investment in Iran, particularly in the Free Trade Zones of the Persian Gulf.

For the past several months, Alviri, the president of Iran's Free Trade Zones organization, has been at the forefront of a campaign to promote and attract investement and foreign capital into the zones.


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