Iran: Mullahs' factional infigting on the rise
- Khomeini's former successor lambasts regime's leader

Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the man Khomeini dismissed as his heir apparent in 1989, has written an open letter to the clerical regime's new president, Mohammad Khatami, sharply rebuking and challenging the leadership of the mullahs' supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who is regarded as a third-rate mullah in the traditional Shiite clerical hierarchy.

Montazeri stressed in his letter that the regime's constitution defined the supreme leader's power's and and it must not be violated, adding that "the leader stands equal before the law... Those who want to put an individual or certain individuals above the law are in fact undermining the country's political stability."

Montazeri has been under virtual house arrest in the city of Qom in the past few years because of his disputes with Khamenei and Rafsanjani. He wrote in his open letter: "The people are suffering as as result of hollow promises, unjustifiable discrimination, administrative mismanagement and nepotism, influence peddling, factional monopolies, slanders, rejection of valuable cadres on senseless grounds, vulgar flattery, imposition of unlawful restrictions, denial of legitimate freedoms stipulated in the constitution, mismanagement and embezzelment of government funds and property, and extravagant and costly ceremonies while the vital needs of society are being ignored."

In another part of his letter, Montazeri referred to the clerical regime's "inquisition, wiretapping, unlawful and arbitrary arrests" and other acts of repression.

Montazeri also focused on the economic and social crises in Iran and wrote: "Inflation, the imbalance between state earnings and spendings, profound class differences and atrocious health conditions are among the current problems of our country...You cannot keep the hungry and the sick happy by just making them lots of promises."

Montazeri's letter, widely distributed in government circles, has aggravated the already heated strife that has plagued the mullahs' internal factions since the election of Khatami and the emergence of three factions led by Khamenei, Khatami and Rafsanjani. The forthcoming announcement of the make-up of the new cabinet is also fueling hostilities among the factions vying with each other for ministerial portfolios.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - Paris
July 5, 1997

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