Wednesday, December 29, 2004

(Rafsanjani) Iran: Will He Run?

The Journal of Turkish Weekly: "Iran: Will He Run?
TEHRAN – The most interesting topic for political discussion in the country during recent weeks has been the May 13, 2005 presidential election and who the candidates might be.

However, no subject raises more debate than Hashemi Rafsanjani’s possible run for the presidency. If he does throw his hat into the ring, it would be for an unprecedented third time. Rafsanjani was Iran’s president for two consecutive terms (1989-1997). He has repeatedly said he has no intention of running but observers believe he might still enter the race at the last moment.

IRAN NEWS conducted interviews with three Seventh Majlis MPs on this subject.

Noureddin Pirmozen, lawmaker from Ardebil province said in this regard: “Eight years should be sufficient for anyone to implement his policies. All politicians – no matter where they come from in the world – have a political expiration date. The country needs new blood and fresh faces in its political leaders. The possibility of his third term in office would only exacerbate the ‘brain drain’ problem in the country, since young people would reach the conclusion that political power is exclusively reserved for a select few people in Iran.” Pirmozen is a reformist deputy in the conservative-dominated legislature.

Elsewhere, Mohsen Kouhkan, MP from Isfahan province said: “He is supremely competent for becoming president if he wants the job. In the event Mr. Rafsanjani is serious about a run he should introduce his cabinet well in advance so the electorate can go the polls knowing who will be in charge of the executive branch. It is interesting that some reformists who were strongly opposed to Rafsanjani before have recently come out in favor of his candidacy because they want to be a part of the future cabinet.”

Kouhkan moreover stated: “We neither oppose Rafsanjani’s candidacy nor are we supporting him, like those who are after cabinet-level positions. But it is our belief that ultimately Rafsanjani will opt out of the race.”

Kouhkan who is an archconservative is a strong critic of the Executives of the Construction Party (ECP) – a movement founded by Rafsanjani during his tenure as president – calling them at one point in the interview “law peddlers” and “law breakers”. It is important to mention that the largest pro-reform movement in the country, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) has so far remained mum about Rafsanjani’s possible candidacy.

Last but not least, Saeed Abu-Taleb, parliamentarian from Tehran said: “If Rafsanjani runs, all bets are off. The conservative wing will become split because some within this wing support Rafsanjani. Also, the race will certainly become much more intense and serious. The fact is without him in the race the presidential contest is not serious.”

Abu-Taleb added: “I believe none of the current slate of candidates could become president because they lack popular support. Both factions are aware of this reality. Furthermore, those who have publicly stated they will run if Rafsanjani does know fully well they don’t have much grassroots support. The truth is there is a dearth of candidates who could be acceptable and popular with the citizenry. As a result, many people have thrown their hat into the ring.”

In conclusion, the ultra hardline conservative legislator mentioned: “There is only one person who has a chance to beat Rafsanjani and that person is Tehran mayor Ahmadi-Nejad.”

The conservatives are worried that if Rafsanjani enters the race, all their precise and orchestrated plans for taking over the executive branch will go up in flames and the race will become anybody’s game. What’s more, pundits think hardliners wish Rafsanjani wouldn’t run, hence, their analysis that he will “opt out of the race”

Source: Iranian News, 29 December 2004 "