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Mehdi Bazargan steps back into Iranian political arena

Former Iranian Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan is attempting to make a comeback on the political scene to prevent Iran from developing into a "one-party state."

Mr. Bazargan who resigned his job as prime minister in the provisional government Nov. 5, 1979, the day the American hostages were taken, has been sitting deliberately on the sidelines for the past 16 months. Now he, says, he and his political organization the Iran Freedom Movement are going to criticize those who hold power in Tehran because "This is not a one-party state."

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The former premier who still has a considerable following among Iran's moderates insists that he did not resign because of the hostages but because a certain group of people were creating difficulties for his government. "We decided to step aside and let them handle things for themselves . . . so that they would come to their senses."

Though he did not name them he appeared to be referring to the fundamentalists who in 1979 were controlling the several "centers of power" and defied Bazargan's central government.

He has already begun his counterattack against the fundamentalists who now hold power in the central government themselves. Among his criticisms were that the deal signed between Iran and the United States to free the 52 American hostages was "contrary to the Constitution."

Bazargan has so far been confining his criticism to the columns of his newspaper Mizan which published 16 editorials taking the hostage deal to pieces. However, he complained he was not permitted to question the deal in the Majlis and even when he asked to talk about it in a pre-agenda speech "My turn was set for six months from now."

He has therefore decided to go directly to the people and make his criticisms in public rallies. The group now holding power he said from launching his campaign of criticism because of the emergency situation created by the war with Iraq. This, he said, was remarkably similar to the kind of excuses the Shah used to make to prevent him from speaking.

The former premier swears he has "No ambitions to power" and he had proved this he says by running for an ordinary seat in the Majlis instead of aiming for something higher. Bazargan is today a member of the Iranian parliament but observers believe he represents a power to be reckoned with, particularly if he joins forces with Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr now seen to be heading the Iranian moderates.

Ibrahim Yazdi, who was foreign minister when the hostage crisis erupted continues to stand by Bazargan's side.

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In a hard-hitting speech in Tehran recently, Yazdi warned the fundamentalists: "You cannot set up a one-party state in Iran." Clubwielding, he said, "even in the name of Hizbollah [the Party of God] is against the Koran."

He blasted the organizers of Friday prayer meetings for inviting speakers from "only one party," and criticized the violent tactics of the fundamentalists. "Is this the kind of thing you want to export as a model of a revolution?"

Bazargan's and Yazdi's attacks on the fundamentalists run in close parallel to such other critics of Iran's ruling Islamic Republican Party as Bani Sadr, Ayatollah Hassan Lahouti, and Sayed Ahmed Khomeini.

BAni-Sadr has warned in a column he writes in the newspaper Inqilab-i Islami that the present phase of "chaos and disturbances" in Iran could lead the country to dictatorship.

Other revolutions which have ended in dictatorship, he pointed out, were those of France which wound up with Napoleon, Russia where Stalin imposed a dictatorship, and Iran itself after the constitutional revolution of 1906 when Reza Shah came to power after a period of chaos.

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