Reformists seek meeting with Khamenei to discuss elections

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According to a March 3 report by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), Mohammad Javad Hagshenas, the deputy director of the Reformist Front, has confirmed that his group sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei requesting a meeting.

The Reformist Front, which consists of various organizations and political parties, sent the letter two weeks ago to the Office of the Supreme Leader to start a conversation with Khamenei on addressing their “concerns about the next presidential elections, the political atmosphere of the country, political campaigning and the presence of reformists in these elections.” Hagshenas said that Khamenei had not yet responded to the request.

Etemaad had reported on Feb. 18 that three prominent reformists had met privately with Khamenei. Details of that meeting were not made public, but it was known to be the first meeting between the supreme leader and members of the reformist camp since the contested presidential elections of 2009.

Due to reformist support of the protests that erupted following those elections, leaders of the major reformists groups were arrested. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the two reformist candidates in the election, remain under house arrest, as does Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard. Hagshenas said that the various reformist blocs have approved of Mohammad Khatami’s candidacy in the next election, but they are “awaiting his response to this decision.”

Meanwhile, in an interview Mar. 3 with ISNA, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani expressed his opposition to a new regulation limiting access to photographers at open parliamentary sessions. The rule, which was presented along with 13 other unrelated regulations, has not been ratified but has become the center of minor controversy. If approved, it would restrict photographers to the first hour of each session and require the Speaker’s discretion for any additional time.

Member of parliament Mehdi Koochazadeh had offered his assessment of the photographers on Feb. 27, when he stated in open session, “It’s true that everyone that is here has the title of a journalist, but some of them are corrupt and pornographers.” Pictures of Majlis members asleep in their chairs, with their heads on their tables and sitting on the floor in groups have circulated widely on social media outlets, such as Facebook, and have made the representatives the target of widespread ridicule and mockery.

In government news, Zahra Tabibzadeh, a member of the Committee for Education and Research, denied in an interview with the Fars News Agency on Mar. 3 that she will replace Marzieh Dastjerdi as minister of health. Dastjerdi became Iran’s first female minister in September 2009, but was sacked Dec. 27, after complaining publicly that the administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had not allocated adequate funding for the purchase of medicine.

Other media sites reprinted her interview because of what she said after denying the replacement rumors: “I’m fundamentally opposed to women becoming ministers,” Tabibzadeh said. She explained, “Women in our country still do not have the experience for management on a large scale.” Tabibzadeh concluded that picking a female minister for its own sake was simply “propaganda and not in the interest of the country.”