Faced with mounting antigovernment violence in Iran, Prime Minister Jamshid Amouzegar and his Cabinet are to announce their resignations today in a move seen here as an attempt to pacify religiousand political opposition to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Following more than a week of rumors that a major government change was imminent, Information Minister Dariusch Homayoun said last night that the Cabinet would resign and that the shah would call on Senate President Jaafar Sharif Emami to form a new one.
The prime minister-designate confirmed his nomination.
The government shakeup will come only two days before the scheduled arrival of Chinese Communist Party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, on a key visit here following trips to Romania and Yugoslavia.
Diplomatic sources said the fact that the shah moved to change his government on the eve of such an important visit was an indication of the seriousness of the situation here.
The appointment of Sharif Emami, 68, who served as prime minister in 1960 and 1961, is being interpreted as a conciliatory gesture by the shah toward Iran's moderate opposition. Political observers, however, feel the move is unlikely to stem the rising tide of violent protest which is basically agains the shah himself.
Sharif Emami is known as a man of religious background who has maintained links with the Moslem clergy while presiding over the senate, the upper house of Iran's essentially rubber-stamp parliament. He is also known for acting independently of the shah during his term as prime minister, and he is generally not viewed as just another palace courtesan.
The resignation of Amouzegar has been expected in the wake of opposition violence this month in several cities including Isfahan, where martial law was declared, and Abadan, the scene of riots this past week following a movie theater fire in which several hundred persons died.
A technocrat who acquired international respect as Iran's top oil negotiator in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in recent years, amouzegar has come under growing criticism of late for a lack of communication with students and clergy and ineffective handling of the opposition in general.
Government sources said the Cabinet change could be accompanied by the dismissal of some unpopular regional officials. The governors-general of at least a few provinces have aroused the anger of Moslem religious leaders by their heavy-handed administration.
One source said: "The overall situation is so serious that we have to do some short-term patching up."
Sharif Emami is thus being viewed as an interim, compromise figure. The sources said he would probably give way next year to a more permanent prime minister to be chosen by the shah. That would follow the legislative elections the shah has promised as part of his "liberalization" policy that is aimed at loosening political life without threatening his own basic authority.
According to one source in parliament, Sharif Emami intends to push for more freedom on the press, the dropping of the one-party system imposed by the shah three years ago and publication of full transcripts of parliamentary debates.
Sharif Emami was a transition prime minister during his first term when he was appointed following a party dispute in parliament.
The shah dismissed him in May 1961 after he had served less than a year in office. According to published accounts, the shah was disturbed by Sharif Emami's less than firm handling of huge opposition demonstrations.
Now, political sources say, the shah seems to be hoping Sharif Emami's political stature and religious links will help him ride out the storm of opposition disturbances.