Sunday, January 09, 2005

Two Reformists Join Iran�s Poll Fray

Two Reformists Join Iran�s Poll Fray: "Two Reformists Join Iran’s Poll Fray

Agence France Presse, Arab News

TEHRAN, 30 December 2004 — Two Iranian reformist politicians have declared their intention to stand in next May’s presidential elections, joining a widening field of conservative candidates, press reports said yesterday.

According to the reports, former Higher Education Minister Mostafa Moin has been nominated as the candidate of the Islamic republic’s main reform party, the Participation Front (IIPF), while incumbent Vice President Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh has also stepped in.

The IIPF has become increasingly isolated after most of its candidates were barred from contesting the February 2004 Parliament elections on the grounds of questionable loyalty to the regime. Candidates for the presidential election, scheduled to take place in May 2005, are also subject to the approval of the Guardians Council, a hard-line-controlled political oversight body.

Moin quit the Cabinet of President Mohammad Khatami in 2003 over frustration with the Guardians Council. Khatami has served two consecutive terms as president and is barred by the constitution from standing again.

As for Mehr-Alizadeh, he was quoted as saying he would pull out of the forthcoming presidential poll if the diverse reformist camp managed to rally around a single candidate. Another potential reformist candidate, former Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karoubi, has yet to state whether he will stand. However, several prominent conservative politicians have already entered the race.

Long-serving former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, now a top adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has announced he intends to stand for president, as has Mohsen Rezai, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards. Influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also been openly mulling a comeback as president but has yet to declare his intentions.

IIPF’s Moin has been the second choice of the IIPF but with the rejection of former Prime Minister Mir-Hussein Mussavi, he remained the only option for the reformist wing. The pediatrician told the students’ news agency ISNA that the trend of political frustration and hopelessness in Iran has led to widespread brain drain and, while referring to the conservative clergy, called on stopping narrow-mindedness and prejudice.

The candidate of the reformist wing is expected to compete against Rafsanjani, chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani and conservative heavyweights such as Velayati and former state-television president Ali Larijani. Khatami cannot run for a third term due to constitutional limitations.

Moin was born in 1951 in Najafabad in the central Iranian Isfahan province. He graduated from the Shiraz University medical school in 1976 and later specialized in pediatrics and also completed fellowship in allergy and immunology. From 1981 to 1997 he has held a number of positions including dean of the Shiraz University, MP for Shiraz, Tehran and Isfahan and higher education minister from 1997 to 2003."