The common perception up until the 2013 Iranian presidential election has been that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has been incrementally sidelined from positions of power ever since leaving the presidency in 1997. Although Rafsanjani is often referred to as one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic, his public positions on the 2009 election protests brought out into the open his many disagreements with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a result, he lost his position as head of the Assembly of Experts and temporary Tehran Friday prayer leader, and was the target of constant attacks by hard-liners in the administration and Sepah, the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Yesterday afternoon, Mehr News reported that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been summoned to branch 76 of the criminal court in Tehran. According to Mehr, the complaint was filed by parliament speaker Ali Larijani, the head of parliament’s Article 90 committee, and Yaghoub Khalil Nejad.
The relationship between Ahmadinejad and Larijani is perhaps the most acrimonious among the top positions of power in the Islamic Republic. In February, on the parliament floor, Ahmadinejad played an audio recording which reportedly implicated Larijani’s brother in financial corruption. Parliament immediately then voted to sack Ahmadinejad’s labor minister. Only with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public warning did tensions subside.
With Hassan Rouhani’s landslide victory, the futures of some his competitors appear uncertain. Websites that supported Rouhani’s campaign have already begun to speculate who the president-elect will pick for his cabinet. Mojtaba Hosseini has written in Reformist newspaper Etemad about the next steps for the five losing candidates.
With a 72% voter turnout Iranians have picked moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani with an overwhelming margin over his conservative and hard-line counterparts.
Rouhani, a 64-year-old cleric who labeled himself a “moderate” and who has been able to work with both sides and has avoided extremes, often criticized the “security environment” that has become prevalent in the country in the last few years and has touted his credentials as capable negotiator when he was in charge of nuclear negotiations with the West. In his television interviews he was often engaging and not afraid to go on the offensive. In the last few days before election day, with the withdrawal of reformist Mohammad Reza Aref and the support of reformist former President Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Rouhani began to draw large crowds at rallies, suggesting the momentum was in his favor. Continue reading
In a speech today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed the importance of voting. A high voter turnout is something he and other top leaders of the Islamic Republic have pushed for in the last few weeks before the June 14 election. There are approximately 50 million eligible voters, and despite claims by various Iranian media that voter turnout will be far above 50%, it has been difficult to independently verify.
Khamenei said, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.” Interestingly, on June 4, Khamenei used the opposite argument to urge people to vote. “Each vote you give to any of these eight candidates … is a vote you’ve given for the Islamic Republic,” he said. “A vote for any candidate is a vote for the Islamic Republic. It’s a vote of confidence in the system and the mechanisms of the election.”
With Reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref pulling out of the presidential race and leaving Hassan Rouhani as the sole front-runner among the moderate candidates, the pressure now appears to be on conservatives, or Principilists, to either pull out of the race or build a coalition.
Abbass Ali Kadkhodaei, spokesman for the Guardian Council, which vets potential candidates, has denied that moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani’s qualification to run for the presidency is under review. While legally the council has the authority to disqualify an already approved candidate just days before the election, the move would be a shock to many.
Foreign-based Persian language news site Digarban has picked up social media post by an individual who claims to be a former student of nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Saeed Jalili. The former student from Imam Sadegh University – where many Sepah (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) have graduated from – describes Jalili as “a good man, but not for the presidency.”
According to the student, many of the 14 points on Jalili were confirmed by “research and interviews with individuals who know him from the Foreign Ministry.” Although the 14 points “are presented by a friend,” the former student adds his own observations in parenthesis. [My comments are in brackets.]
Jalili’s surprise last-minute registration and approval by the Guardian Council has caught some analysts off guard. He has presented himself as a hardliner on religious, social and foreign policy issues. Some on foreign Persian language media sites and others on social media have speculated that Jalili’s presence and position in the elections is a ploy to convince more liberal voters to turn out to vote for their own candidate to increase voter participation, something which is desired by the Iranian government. Continue reading
With eight days left before the June 14 election and the unpredictable nature of Iranian presidential politics, Reformists and moderates have been exerting pressure on Mohammad Reza Aref and Hassan Rouhani to unite. Some fear that if Aref and Rouhani fail to unite, their votes there could be a repeat of 2005 election that brought the hard-line Ahmadinejad to power.