President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr today appeared to have lost his battle to name a provisional government immediately as a means of strengthening his authority, which has been faltering in the face of growing opposition from the right-wing clerical Islamic Republican Party.
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hasshemi Rajsanjani said after a Revolutionary Council meeting that he thought it "improbable that a prime minister will be chosen" since the new parliament was expected to meet soon.
Bani-Sadr's unstated purpose in seeking to name a new government -- with the blessing of Iran's most powerful figure, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini -- was to outmaneuver the clerical party, which is virtually certain to dominate the new parliament and to exercise its perrogative of nominating a prime minister of its own choosing.
Partial but significant results in the runoff elections held Friday indicated that the clerical party would constitute the largest single group -- and perhaps even hold an outright majority.
Khomeini has entrusted settlement of the more than six-month-old hostage crisis with the United States to the 270-seat parliament, which is expected to convene in early June and not begin to tackle substantive problems until several weeks later.
Increasingly over the past two days signs have emerged of Bani-Sadr's inability to announce the new prime minister. If these signs are confirmed, Bani-Sadr's setback will count as another in a seemingly unending series since he won a landslide 76 percent vote in the Jan. 25 presidential election.
One by one the major candidates for prime minister have either declined to accept the post for only two months -- a key condition laid down by the clerical party -- or demanded their own conditions that were unacceptable to Khomeini, Bani-Sadr or the clerical party.
Even if a prime minister is now named, analysts suggested that the clerical party has succeeded in paralyzing any government that might be formed. c
Such a Cabinet, which would be the first since provisional prime minister Mehdi Bazargan was forced out because of the U.S. Embassy seizure last Nov. 4, would risk suffering the same divisiveness that has marked the Revolutionary Council ever since.