DATE=5/27/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IRAN/PARLIAMENT (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-262876 BYLINE=LISA BRYANT DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Iran's first reformist-dominated parliament in 20 years has convened in Tehran. From Cairo, Lisa Bryant reports that the opening ceremony Saturday included an appeal by President Mohammed Khatami for lawmakers to focus on economic reforms and social justice. TEXT: The first day of the parliament began with strains of Iran's national anthem and verses from the Koran. Later, President Khatami called on the new parliamentarians to avoid artificial confrontation and establish an atmosphere of trust during their four- year term. A statement by the nation's supreme Leader, Ali Khameini, joined Mr. Khatami's appeal for the parliament to work on shoring up Iran's ailing economy and addressing its soaring unemployment problem. Ayatollah Khamenei also warned the lawmakers about so- called enemies of the country. These enemies, he said, were spreading propaganda that the parliament was against the spirit of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Among the dignitaries attending the inaugural session was former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Mr. Rafsanjani placed last in Tehran's parliamentary elections. Later, he was bumped to 20th place, which guaranteed him a seat in the new assembly. But in a surprise move Thursday, Mr. Rafsanjani resigned his seat. Conservatives had been expecting to nominate him as a candidate for parliamentary speaker. The opening of the parliament ends weeks of uncertainty and conflict surrounding the composition of the 290-seat assembly. About three-quarters of the new lawmakers are moderates allied with President Khatami. Although reformists won a resounding victory in February elections, others later faced a second round of balloting. And Iran's conservative Guardian Council delayed endorsing results of Tehran's elections for three months, claiming the voting had been riddled with (EDS: tainted by) fraud. The next challenge facing moderate lawmakers will come in the next few days, as the parliament elects a speaker and a presiding board. Who is elected will offer a clearer indication of the reformists' strength. Moreover, hard-liners still control key parts of the government, including the judiciary and the security forces. In what has been seen as a conservative backlash, the hard-line Press Court has closed more than a dozen reformist newspapers. The banned papers include one published by President Khatami's brother, Mohammed Reza Khatami. Mr. Khatami is among the moderates who now dominate Iran's new parliament. (Signed) NEB/LB/ALW/JP 27-May-2000 08:48 AM EDT (27-May-2000 1248 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .