In Iran, voices rise against mayor selection bill
Tehran's Municipality spokesman has urged the Iranian parliament to reject a new bill that gives the Interior Ministry the right to appoint mayors, Press TV reported.
"We hope the parliament will consider the principles of democracy and the importance of the people's entitlement to choose their preferred mayors before making it the right of the Interior Ministry," said Mohammad Hadi Ayazi on Wednesday.
At present, city mayors are chosen by the elected city -- or Islamic -- councils. However, a group of pro-government lawmakers have tabled a bill in the parliament which if adopted, would give the interior minister the power to appoint mayors in cities with populations of above 200,000.
For cities with less than 200,000 residents, the bill would require that provincial governors elect mayors with coordination of the Interior Ministry.
The bill, tabled two weeks ago, has drawn criticism from various officials and its possible adoption is seen by critics as a step in the wrong direction.
"The passing of this bill would significantly undermine the role of municipal councils, which has been greatly emphasized in the Iranian constitution," Ayazi continued. "This is why the Tehran City Council as well as the members of Islamic councils in all the other towns and large cities have opposed this bill."
Ayazi was referring to opposition to the bill by prominent members of the Tehran City Council.
Among officials who condemned the measure was Tehran City Council head Mehdi Chamran."The bid for mayors not to be appointed by the councils threatens religious democracy," Iranian daily Sarmayeh quoted Chamran as saying.
"At a time that the government seeks to delegate various tasks with the help of others and lessen its responsibilities, once again assigning the government the job of selecting mayors only questions the existence of councils."