Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/1214

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858 PERSIA

with disregard of the natural heir, to any member of their family, but preference is generally given to a prince whose mother was a Kajar princess.

Government. The form of government of Persia is in its most important features similar to that of Turkey. All the laws are based on the precepts of the Koran, and though the power of the Shah is absolute, it is only in so far as it is not opposed to the accepted doc- trines of the Muhammedan religion, as laid down in the sacred book of the Prophet, his oral commentaries and sayings, and the inter- pretation of the same by his successors and the high priesthood. The Shah is regarded as vicegerent of the Prophet (a great part of the priesthood and descendants of the Prophet [Syeds] deny this), and it is as such that he claims implicit obedience. Under him, the executive government is carried on by a ministry, for- merly consisting of but two high functionaries, the grand vizier and the lord treasurer, but in more recent times divided into several departments, after the European fashion. The office of Sadr Azam or Grand Vizir, twice vacant since November, 1896, has, since August 11, 1898, been held by Mirza Ali Asghar Khan, Amin es Sultan. The chiefministers are Amin el Mulk, Minister of the Interior ; Mushir-ed-Dowleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs ; Amir Khan Serdar, Minister forWar ; Nizam es Saltaneh, Minister of Finance. Other departments represented in the Ministry are : Treasury, Justice, Commerce, Instruction, Tele- graphs, Posts, Religious Endowments, Agriculture, Crown Domains, Court, Public Works, Press, Crown Buildings, Ceremonies, Mines, Mint, Customs. There are twenty-one ministers of departments and also several ministers without portfolios, but only five or six of the more important are consulted on affairs of state.

The country is divided into thirty-three provinces, which are governed by governors-general, who are directly responsible to the central Govern- ment, and can nominate the lieutenant-governors of the districts com- prised in their own governments-general. Some of the governments-general are very small, and do not bear sut)di vision into districts, &c. ; others are very large, and comprise several provinces. Governors-general and lieutenant- governors are generally called Hakim, the former also often have the title of Wall, Ferman Ferma, &c. A lieutenant-governor is sometimes called Naib el-Hukumah ; one of a small district is a Zabit. Every town has a mayor or chief magistrate called Kalantar, or Darogha, or Beglerbeggi. Every quarter of a town or parish, and every village, has a chief who is called Kedkhoda. These officers, whose chief duty is the collection of the revenue, are generally appointed by the lieutenant-governors, but sometimes elected by the citizens. Most of the governors have a vizir or a pishkdr, a man of experience, to whom are entrusted the accounts and the details of the government. The chiefs of nomad tribes are called Ilkliani, Ilbeggi, Wall, Serdar, Sheikh, Tushmal ; they are responsible for the collection of the revenues to the governors of the province in which their tribe resides.