Rafsanjani travels to Qom to meet Montazeri

Fearing the spread of protests by dissident clergy and theology students, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the mullahs' former president, went to Qom last week to visit Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini's deposed heir-apparent, reports from Iran say.

Khamenei had approved the trip which was undertaken by Rafsanjani under the guise of lecturing for theology students. With the failure of brutal and suppressive measures ordered by Khamenei against the dissident clergy, Rafsanjani thus tried to negotiate with Montazeri to convince him to cooperate and maintain silence.

In a speech some time ago, Montazeri had accused Khamenei of corruption and incompetence, questioning his qualifications as religious leader and vali-e faqih and condemning his intervention in the country's affairs.

Rafsanjani's trip affirms that despite calls for Montazeri's prosecution and the arrest of a large group of dissident clergymen, Khamenei and his faction have been unable to overcome the wave of opposition among the clergy, and unrest continues to escalate in Qom and other cities.

In recent weeks, a number of senior officials of the regime including Khatami and Rafsanjani, have on various occasions brought up the issue of "the unraveling" of the regime and sought support for velayat-e faqih as the "fundamental pillar of the ruling apparatus."

In another development, the mullahs' Majlis was given a week-long recess unexpectedly and without prior notice. Considering the holidays relating to the martyrdom of Imam Ali, the first Shiite Imam, and the Id-al Fitr, the parliament will therefore be virtually closed for one month. The clerics fear that their internal conflicts reach an explosive state and get out of control.

At the same time, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, head of a student group affiliated with the regime, wrote a letter to Ali Akbar Nateq-Noori, speaker of the mullahs' parliament, repeating the demand for setting a limited tenure for velayat-e faqih and restricting Khamenei's powers.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
January 11, 1998

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