Friday, December 17, 2004

More than 20 Political Parties have Endorsed Rafsanjani’s Candidacy

Daily Times - Site Edition: "Rafsanjani plots Iran comeback as man for a crisis

By Paul Hughes

FEARS that Islamic hardliners could exacerbate Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West, scare foreign investors and worsen social tensions may pave the way for a comeback by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Humiliated by reformists in parliamentary polls in 2000 when he failed to gain a seat, the mid-ranking cleric has set his sights on presidential elections in mid-2005.

But Rafsanjani, 70, who has yet to declare he will run, must overcome stern opposition from reformists and hardliners alike, as well as deep public scepticism if he is to return to the job he held from 1989 to 1997.

“The worse things go internationally and domestically for Iran over the next few months, the more that plays into Rafsanjani’s hands,”said a senior political analyst in Tehran. “What he and his backers are saying is that he is the man for a crisis,” said the analyst, who declined to be named.

Conservatives are poised to take back the presidency in elections set for May or June as President Mohammad Khatami’s eight-year reform experiment peters out amid public disillusionment with his failure to deliver promised improvements in political, economic and social freedoms.

But increasingly vociferous and confident hardliners, who reversed the reformist majority in parliament in February polls, may be giving Iran’s clerical establishment cause for concern.

Radical parliament: Driven by strong Islamic beliefs, anti-Western sentiment and emphasis on social justice, the new deputies have questioned major foreign investment projects, backed clampdowns on social freedoms and criticised officials for negotiating with the European Union over Iran’s atomic programme. “The question facing the Iranian regime is whether the interest of the state lies in having a radical president who would fall in line with radical forces in the parliament,” Amir Ali Nourbakhsh, a director at business consultants Atieh Bahar Consulting, wrote in a recent opinion piece.

The alternative, he says, may be “a more pragmatic president who could continue the current detente with the international community, that even the conservative leaders of the Islamic Republic finds necessary for the preservation of the regime.”

As head of a top policy body known as the Expediency Council, Rafsanjani recently outmanoeuvred parliamentarians’ efforts to stifle economic reform by pushing through a constitutional amendment opening up vast sectors of the state-dominated economy to privatisation.

Unlike hardliners, Rafsanjani is also seen as a pragmatist on social issues who, when president, started the process towards more relaxed dress codes for women and increased cultural activities which later flourished under Khatami.

Supporters say the man who brokered US arms shipments to Iran in the 1980s has the experience and guile to handle the international pressures facing Tehran.

But Rafsanjani would have to win over a public deeply mistrustful of the former president, who, despite his denials, is perceived as having used political influence to amass a business fortune for himself and relatives.

Nuclear issue key: Just by announcing his candidacy “the problems surrounding Iran’s nuclear case and the foreign threats it faces, especially from America, will be lessened,” said Mohammad Reza Turani, an official at the Experts Assembly, a top decision-making body. For the senior political analyst, “the key to Rafsanjani’s campaign is the nuclear case. If the nuclear issue is going badly, and pressure from the West is high, that favours him.”

The nuclear timetable appears to be in Rafsanjani’s favour.

Tensions which have lulled while Iran discusses a long-term nuclear solution with the EU are pre-programmed to flare up again in about three months, with Iran warning it will resume sensitive atomic work like uranium enrichment soon after.

“Given the radical political slant of parliament and the Islamic state’s genetic inclination towards ‘good cop, bad cop’ policies, the likelihood that Iran’s next president would be a moderate is not all that minute,” says Nourbakhsh.

Backers say more than 20 small political parties have endorsed Rafsanjani’s candidacy. But opposition towards a man who arouses divided feelings in Iran is also strong. reuters"

Conservatives hold first official presidential campaign gathering

Description of Selected News: "Conservatives hold first official presidential campaign gathering

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) –- The conservatives held their first official presidential campaign gathering yesterday in Tehran.

During the session, former Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) director Ali Larijani, ex-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaie, and leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli expressed their views and future plans for the government as potential conservative candidates for the upcoming presidential election.

Tehran mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad, the fifth nominee, sent a letter excusing himself from the gathering.

The five officials are the conservative faction’s main candidates for the next presidential election.

The Coordination Council of the Islamic Revolution Forces Committee (IRFC), which organized the gathering that was entitled “A New Step”, has announced that it intends to reach a consensus on a single presidential candidate.

Upholding social justice essential for successful government: Larijani

Former TV director Larijani said Friday that establishing social justice is essential for a successful government.

The Islamic Revolution wisely intends to create a calm atmosphere at home and promote peace in the international arena, Larijani said.

“We support dialogue with dignity,” the Supreme Leader’s representative in the Supreme National Security Council asserted.

Praising the unity of revolutionary people, he stressed that the conservative camp has gained courage and wisdom and has succeeded to win the people’s confidence.

Larijani said that he feels no competitiveness with the other conservative nominees.

The next presidential elections will be held in May or June next year.

“What is important is that a group of wise people select a candidate based on their policies and that it’s our religious duty to support the preferred nominee,” he stated.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Larijani said that economic policies should tend to boost domestic production, adding that the economy should not be dependant on oil.

Achieving 20-year prospects not possible without serious efforts: ex-FM

Velayati, an advisor to Supreme Leader on foreign policy and international affairs, said that Iran will only be able to achieve its 20-year plan prospects and the number one position in the Middle East through a serious movement by the government.

Velayati referred to his plans for the future government as well as the impact of his past records as foreign minister.

“In view of those measures, the message of the Islamic Revolution of Iran led to the awakening of Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan and this is why the U.S. has directed its accusations against us,” he went on to say.

Elsewhere in his remarks Velayati called for economic development to achieve progress and social justice in the country.

He added that one of the main priorities of the next government is to modify the labor law with the purpose of job security with a coordination of the parliament.

The advisor stressed that he would support any of the 4 or 5 presidential nominees that the committee would decide to field in the next presidential elections scheduled for early spring.

Fighting economic corruption should be top priority of next government: presidential hopeful

Leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli said that intense campaign against economic corruption should be the top priority of the next government.

Tavakoli said four years has passed since the Leader of the Islamic Revolution called for fight against economic corruption but nothing has been done so far in this regard.

The presidential hopeful said currently the public confidence to the government has been reduced and if this trend continues the opportunities will be lost and the threats will become serious.

Tavakoli lost to reformist President Mohammad Khatami in the 2001 presidential election.

Tehran mayor wishes for prosperous and powerful Iran

Tehran mayor Ahmadi-Nejad said in a letter sent to the gathering that he wishes for a prosperous and powerful Iran.

In his letter Ahmadi-Nejad has said that since six months is left to the presidential election and as a mayor he plans to do great projects in Tehran, he is worried that an early involvement in the presidential campaign will bar him from serving the people of Tehran.

Presidential hopeful stresses need to implement 20-year Outlook Plan

The secretary of the Expediency Council and former commander of the Islamic Republic Guards Corps (IRGC) stressed that Iran should become the region’s first power in terms of economy and information technology in the next 20 years.

The EC official said the new government faces great challenges and opportunities.

Rezaie said the U.S. Greater Middle East initiative, which has targeted Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Palestine, has made the condition very sensitive for the next four years.

However, the presidential candidate said the there are unprecedented opportunities ahead which the next president should take them into consideration.

The government can torpedo plots such as the Greater Middle East initiative by moving in direction of implementing the 20-year outlook plan, the presidential hopeful noted.

Rezaie expressed hope that the conservatives’ biggest electoral gathering would help unite what he called the “big family” of the Islamic Revolution who plans to materialize the ideals of the late Imam Khomeini. -------Next administration should be in harmony with other branches of govt.: Majlis speaker

Majlis speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel told the gathering that the next administration should be in harmony with other branches of government.

Haddad Adel stressed that the seventh Majlis has focused its attention on establishing tranquility in the society and doing services to the people.

“An efficient parliament requires the next government to be in harmony with other powers in the country so that all forces can unite to serve the Islamic system,” he stated.

IRFC favors qualified and popular presidential hopeful: ex-speaker

Former Majlis speaker Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri said also told the seminar that the right-wing faction attach great importance to efficiency and social justice in the next presidential election.

Nateq Nuri said the committee only insists on justice, and pluralism and reaching a consensus on a single candidate for the presidential election.

He added that a qualified and charismatic candidate has preference over a qualified but less charismatic presidential hopeful."

Tehran mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad wishes for prosperous and powerful Iran

Tehran mayor wishes for prosperous and powerful Iran: "Tehran mayor wishes for prosperous and powerful Iran
TEHRAN, Dec. 16 (MNA) – Tehran mayor Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad said in a letter sent to the biggest electoral gathering convened on the next presidential election on Friday that he wishes for a prosperous and powerful Iran.
In his letter Ahmadi-Nejad has said that since six months is left to the presidential election and as a mayor he plans to do great projects in Tehran, he is worried that an early involvement in the presidential campaign will bar him from serving the people of Tehran.

The conservative camp is mulling over the candidacy of Ahmadi-Nejad, the former TV director Ali Larijani, former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Majlis MP Ahmad Tavakoli and the secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaie for president.

Ahmadi Nejad has done great services in the capital Tehran since he took the mayoral post.

The Friday gathering was directed by the coordination committee for the Islamic Revolution forces committee. Former Majlis speaker and former conservative presidential candidate Ali Akbar Neteq Nuri, who lost to incumbent President Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 presidential election, is an influential member of the committee."