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Bani Sadr says hardliners on "final offensive"
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posted March 30, 2001 09:33
PARIS, March 29 (AFP) - Exiled former president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr said
hardliners in Tehran's clerical regime have launched a "final offensive" to wipe out the nation's republican institutions. "The Iranian people have never had greater need for the support of international public opinion in its struggle for freedom, which cannot be won until Iran's despotism has come to an end," he said in statement sent to AFP.
Bani-Sadr, in exile in France since his 1981 ouster, said supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was working to "pull back the little power that remains" in the hands of the reformist parliament and President Mohammad
"Iran's despotism is so weakened that it can no longer tolerate either," he said, adding that hardliners were now launched on a "final offensive" because the principle of the supreme leader was incompatible with a republic.
He also blasted Khamenei for his repeated warnings about the danger to national unity in the face of a bitter political struggle over the president's reformist movement.
Khatami has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election to a second term when voters go to the polls on June 8, following a conservative backlash that has ground his programme of liberalising reforms to a halt.
More than 30 newspapers and journals, including every major reformist daily, have been closed by the conservative-led courts over the past year.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party has been effectively closed down, and some 20 of its members arrested along with leading journalists and close political and intellectual allies of the president.
All times are PT (US)
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