Leader urges MPs to focus on economy, culture
Rouhani underlines gov’t-legislature cooperation
Iran’s new Parliament convened on Wednesday after February elections under health protocols and social distancing rules to ward off the novel coronavirus.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by President Hassan Rouhani, Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi, and Major General Mohammad Baqeri, the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, among other government officials.
Iran held legislative elections on February 21 in which 279 candidates, mostly conservatives, made their way into the 290-seat chamber to make laws for four years. A second round is expected to be held in September for the remaining 11 elective seats. Some 43 percent of voters cast ballots in the polls, according to official results.
Parliament, a legislative chamber that shapes debate in Iran, had been closed for six weeks until April 7 as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Many lawmakers wore masks and their temperatures were taken before entering the legislature in downtown Tehran.
The 11th legislature since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 opened as Iran’s economy gradually returns to normal from the virus outbreak.
In a sign that the fight against the virus is still far from over, however, a seat was left vacant between each deputy.
Iran has been hit by West Asia’s deadliest outbreak of the virus. Its toll stands at more than 7,500 dead and over 141,000 infected.
Most pressing issues
Addressing new lawmakers, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei highlighted economy and culture as Iran’s most pressing issues, which require Parliament’s highest-level of attention.
In his statement, the Leader said the new Parliament's inauguration displays the successful implementation of “Islamic democracy” in the country.
He thanked the Iranian people for their “diligence and motivation” in electing the new legislature and congratulated the parliamentarians on securing the nation’s approval.
Citing the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the Leader said Parliament stands “at the forefront” of the country’s affairs.
The legislative body, he said, is duty-bound to pave the way for the adoption of the laws that serve as the country’s path toward its desired “pinnacles and destinations.”
Ayatollah Khamenei, therefore, urged the lawmakers to bring into force “the right, apt, and workable” legislation that would empower “the country to attain its sublime goals.”
In order to correctly perform their duties, the lawmakers have to properly identify the country’s priorities through expert analysis, maintain their active engagement, and avoid misusing the position and resources that have been trusted with them, he noted.
The legislators, the Leader added, should not allow harmful, personal, and factional affairs to interfere with their performance.
“You respectable representatives are the ones, who can grant Parliament a decent standing,” Ayatollah Khamenei observed.
Ayatollah Khamenei said today’s topmost priorities were “culture and economy,” advising Parliament to place the main planks of the national economy — including employment, production, and the national currency’s value — high on its agenda.
“The general policies of the resistance economy serve as a credible guideline in this area,” he added, referring to a well-known economic course of action devised by the Leader.
The Leader expressed certitude that commitment to such principles and other momentous guidelines would “prove to the Iranian people that they have made the right choices [by electing the parliamentarians],” and further motivate them to participate in upcoming elections.
President Hassan Rouhani urged lawmakers to "cooperate" with his government in his speech during the inaugural session.
"I hope that in the year that remains for this government we will be able to cooperate and work together," Rouhani said in the address before the newly-formed Parliament.
Such cooperation would enable the Executive and Legislative branches to confront America’s “sanctions and provocations” as well as the new coronavirus outbreak, he said.
Rouhani, who is in the final year of his second and final term, called on MPs, collectively and individually, to place the "national interests above special interests", "party interests" or "constituency interests".
He also called the lawmaking body the symbol of “religious democracy.”
The president defended the performance of his government.
In his speech, Rouhani again denounced the "psychological war" and "economic and medical terrorism" that he said the United States was waging against Iran.
But he said the Iranian nation had stood up against "the enemy" and that its resistance had won.
The president praised his government's performance in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak as a source of "great pride", adding that Iran was "among the countries that have succeeded".
AFP, Reuters, and Press TV contributed to this story.