The withdrawal of the only Reformist candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, played a significant role in Hassan Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential elections. Aref, who was vice president under Reformist Mohammad Khatami, withdrew in favor of Rouhani at the urging of Khatami, paving the way for a majority victory in the first round against conservative candidates who failed to unite. In his letter of congratulations to Rouhani, Khatami thanked Aref for playing a “prominent role” in Rouhani’s victory. The backing of Reformists such as Khatami, and also former president Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, were key factors in Rouhani’s victory. Many Reformists felt that by supporting Rouhani they could achieve some of their by goals, such as freedom for political prisoners and space to re-start political activities. Despite Aref not being a well known Reformist and most accurately labeled as moderate, some Reformists are hopeful that Rouhani will appoint Aref as vice president. 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.
Reformist candidate Mohammad Reza Aref distinguished himself from the other candidates yesterday in his television interview by mentioning the name of former presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest without charge for two years for contesting the 2009 presidential election.
Mohammad Reza Aref, former first vice president from 2001-2005 under former president Mohammad Khatami, registered for Iran’s presidential elections today. Aref, who is currently a member of the Expediency Council, an advisory body to the supreme leader, said that soon a united Reformist candidate would be introduced among the other potential candidates. He is perhaps the most well known Reformist candidate to register thus far.
Several powerful and influential clerics have given statements on whether Reformists will run for the presidency or be disqualified by the Guardian Council, the body of clerics that vets candidates for the elections in Iran. The most prominent to be mentioned from the Reformist camp is former president Mohammad Khatami, although other names have also been mentioned as potential candidates as well.
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi said that “the Reformists are after a candidate that will not be disqualified, [but] their leaders will certainly be disqualified.” Mesbah Yazdi, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics that theoretically serves as an oversight body for the Supreme Leader, said that “after the sedition of 2009, the Reformists no longer have a place amongst the people.”