Monday, March 14, 2005

Iran Daily: Mohsen Rahami Reformist Presidential Candidate

Iran Daily: "Rule of Law Top Priority

By Farzaneh Shokri
Mohsen Rahami is one of the presidential candidates affiliated to the reformist camp. He currently teaches political science in Tehran University. He was Majlis deputy for two terms and also served as deputy minister of science, research and technology. He
Rahami believes mass media in Iran are mouthpieces of certain political groups. He is of the opinion that currently the people are uninterested in the presidential race. In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Rahami talked about numerous issues, excerpts of which follow:

IRAN DAILY: What are your plans for the country as a presidential candidate?
RAHAMI: Our main concern is the non-fulfillment of the rights of different social strata within the framework of the rule of law. My first priority is that I remain committed to the rule of law and public demands. The most important point is to remember that in our country administrators have been people with technical or medical backgrounds. I do not reject this concept, but running a country requires a lawful and law-abiding mindset. So far, the country has not been administered on the basis of the rule of law, as it should have been. Currently, nepotism and factional interests dominate the scene while laws and regulations are set for the vulnerable and low-income strata.

As a reformist candidate, how could you be successful while President Mohammad Khatami has failed to implement macro strategies?
The Khatami administration did a good job in certain domains such as establishing cordial ties with European and regional countries. Perhaps the reason why Khatami was not very successful with some strategies is that a powerful segment of the ruling establishment did not cooperate with him. It is quite obvious that Khatami’s government was incapable of implementing the rule of law. Therefore, parallel state institutions were established and Khatami employed the approach of political discourse and pursuit of expedience in dealing with violations of the rule of law. I personally believe that pursuit of expedience is not the correct approach in running state affairs. There is no single formula for administering state affairs. However, we must use the experience of other countries in promulgating democracy.

Where does the reformist current stand today?
If we view the reformist current as a movement, I must say that I have contributed to creating this movement, but I am not a reformer affiliated to the government. The reform movement is government-oriented and depends on people who held key posts in Khatami’s cabinet. It is therefore natural that with the end of Khatami’s tenure as president, the reform movement will not remain popular. I am not optimistic about the future of the reform movement. However, I can be optimistic about the future of the reform movement, if it does not connect itself to the rulership and acts independently.
How do you view the issue of reestablishing ties with the US?
The important point here is that the US has in the past interfered in Iran’s internal affairs. This can be resolved through dialogue and by resorting to international laws. I must say that we will not benefit from the continuation of icy relations between Tehran and Washington. This is while the continuation of the present trend is not beneficial to the US either, because it will lose the market in the Middle East and Iran.
Iran needs to have bonds with the outside world and attract foreign investments because of the high unemployment rate. However, the point is how we resolve our problems. We must change the country’s overall climate and abandon our hostility vis-ˆ-vis the US and accept that the US is a legitimate system that has been founded on the basis of popular votes.
During the tenure of former US President Bill Clinton, who had a legal mindset, a good opportunity came our way to resolve our problems with the US. If back then we had not been overridden with sentiments and radicalism, our problems with the US could have been resolved. We had the upper-hand then, but we lost the opportunity."