Monday, October 04, 2004

The Blogging VP of Iran Resigns

IranMania News: "Iran's Blogging vice-presidents resigns in Protest"

I am a fan of and an admirer of his Excellency Mohammad Ali Abtahi. I am very disappointed to see his resignation. I hope President Khatami will not accept it. Ideologically I find my self more in line with a Pragmatic approach but I admire Mohammad Ali Abtahi and I do not like to see the politics of destruction in Iran today. JBOC

LONDON, Oct 4 (IranMania) - One of Iran's vice-presidents and most outspoken reformists, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, announced Monday he has resigned from the Islamic republic's increasingly isolated government.

"It is up to the president to approve this decision," Abtahi told the student news agency ISNA, adding that President Mohammad Khatami -- who has a total of eight vice-presidents in his cabinet -- should reach a decision soon.

News of Abtahi's intention to quit comes the day after hardline deputies in the Iranian parliament impeached the reformist transport minister, Ahmad Khorram, for mismanagement, corruption, a spate of accidents and favouring foreign firms in handing out government contracts.

Abtahi, a jovial and rotund mid-ranking cleric who is vice-president for judicial and parliamentary affairs, has been one of the most outspoken members of Khatami's government.

But he said that working with hardliners, who took control of parliament in May after most reformist were barred from contesting February's elections, had become impossible.

"For some time I have reached the conclusion that given the differences between my political viewpoints and those of the parliament, I cannot fulfill my responsibilities," Abtahi told ISNA.

"For this reason, I have since some time presented my resignation to President Mohammad Khatami so that the understanding between the government and the parliament can be improved," he said.

The vice-president could not be immediately reached for further comment.

Resignations or threats of resignations have been common in the government during and after the election controversy, although so far Khatami has refused to let any of his ministers go.

Abtahi, who is in his mid-40s, held the post of cabinet secretary during Khatami's first mandate from 1997 to 2001, before being promoted to a vice-presidential position.

The cleric is also well known for his frank internet weblog and photo diary, which can be found at, which goes some way to shatter the widely-held view overseas that the regime's ruling clerics are rather staid individuals.

One entry in his website recounts how, during a posting in Lebanon as representative of Iranian media in 1994, he "learned the art of reciprocity, mercifulness and coexistence between Christians and Muslims."

Abtahi is also a government figure who has in the past stuck his neck out, much to the ire of powerful hardliners who pull most of the strings here.

He was the first official to disclose that Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi was murdered in custody following her arrest in June 2003.

Kazemi's killing badly damaged relations between Canada and Iran, and the hardline judiciary has been accused of covering up for one of its own officials."


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