DATE=5/23/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=IRAN PARLIAMENT / GUARDIAN COUNCIL NUMBER=5-46359 BYLINE=DALE GAVLAK DATELINE=TEHRAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Iran's reformist-led parliament is to open this week. As Dale Gavlak reports from Tehran, reformists will control Iran's 290-member legislature, the majlis, for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution. TEXT: After months of wrangling over ballot counts, the Guardian Council (election commission) announced that reformists won all but four of 30 parliamentary seats contested in Tehran. The Tehran decision, combined with other results from a second round of voting, means President Mohamed Khatami's reform allies will enjoy an unchallenged majority in the majlis. The country's most prominent opposition leader, Ibrahim Yazdi, says there is hope that the new majlis will overturn recent press restrictions imposed by the outgoing conservative parliament and other hardline measures. /// YAZDI ACT ONE /// The conservatives do not have any way back, except to accept and swallow the results of the election, whether they like it or do not like it. The results of the people's votes must be respected and the new majlis must be opened. /// END ACT /// Mr. Yazdi, heads an independent national Islamic party, the Iran Freedom Movement, and once served as an aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution. He says there is no turning back the clock. /// YAZDI ACT TWO /// The people in Iran have become politically aware and are appreciating the value of their own votes. This is a very important development in Iran. /// END ACT /// The opposition leader calls the recent banning of Iran's independent press illegal and says it violates the country's constitution. Mr. Yazdi accuses the hard-line press courts of using a criminal law dating back to the reign of Shah Mohamed Pahlevi to curb press freedom. That, he says, was something the Shah had not dared to do. Last week the judiciary suspended yet another newspaper, bringing to 18 the number of reformist publications stopped since April. The "Ham-Mihan" daily was charged with spreading false reports about the Islamic Republic's elite Revolutionary Guards, police, and the intelligence ministry. Former Tehran mayor and Khatami ally Gholamhossein Karbaschi ran the paper. Another editor, Ezotallah Sahabi, saw his monthly Iran Farda banned earlier. He thinks the press ban will continue until the beginning of the new parliament. /// SAHABI ACT ONE - IN FARSI - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Sahabi says the new parliament probably will allow the banned publications to reopen. He adds, if not his paper will go to another that has government permission to print, but is not, and resume publishing that way. Although Mr. Sahabi helped Ayatollah Khomeini to ignite the Islamic Revolution, he advocates a separation between religion and the state. Because of his ideas he was recently taken before the press court twice, and once before the revolutionary court that decides national security issues. /// SAHABI ACT TWO - IN FARSI - FADE UNDER /// He says he accepted the press court's complaints, but believes it is a Muslim's religious duty to disagree with government injustice. Reformists had feared that the Guardian Council might order a new election in the capital as one more conservative tactic to keep the new parliament from opening. Earlier, the council had annulled 12- reformist victories in other Iranian towns and awarded three of those seats to hard-liners. The council claimed there were discrepancies in the ballot counts. Townspeople in Damavand, about 50-kilometers outside Tehran, complain that the council decision voiding their election results has deprived their reformist victor from taking his rightful place in the new parliament. One of the town's cafe waiters, called Ali, says Damavand has now been left without proper representation for the next two years. Ali - speaking through a translator - says he expects the already hard economic times for the town to get even worse. . /// ALI / TRANSLATOR ACT /// There are some forces working against this town and against the people's representative. It is like the car that you leave on the street corner for two-years and after two-years there will be nothing left. /// END ACT /// Conservatives say they fear the new moderate parliament will do away with their strongholds of power - such as the Guardian Council and the state- controlled media. But - as student activist Akbar Atri explains - people generally are waiting to see what happens when the new parliament convenes. /// ATRI ACT - IN FARSI - FADE UNDER /// Mr. Atri says that all political groups have come to the conclusion that the new parliament must start working at any price. He says the students plan to criticize the government and the new parliament too. He says they intend to keep the pressure on. (SIGNED) NEB/DG/JWH/RAE 23-May-2000 08:38 AM EDT (23-May-2000 1238 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .