Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Iran News Publishes "Mud Slinging" Attack on Rafsanjani's family

Iran News - 'Iran's Rafsanjani to reveal presidential bid Wed.': " 'Iran's Rafsanjani to reveal presidential bid Wed.'

Monday, May 09, 2005 - ©2005 IranMania.com

LONDON, May 9 (IranMania) - Iran's Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani will announce Wednesday whether he will stand at the June 17 presidential election, the head of a leading group of his supporters said on Sunday.

The announcement was made by Mohammad Mehdi Emami Nasseri, the chief of the Central Headquarters of Popular Support for the Great Sirdar-- a reference to Rafsanjani who is called 'the commander of construction' by his supporters.

But a row seemed brewing up Sunday as Rafsanjani's son was forced to deny allegations that he intended to divert state funds to his father's presidential campaign.

An MP from Tehran, Elias Naderan, asked that Intelligence Minister Ali Younessi officially make clarifications in this regard and that the issue is raised at the parliament's National Security Commission.

"Mr M.H. has stated that 'we want to use the funds allocated to the Fuel Optimization Organization and other credits relating to the construction of 400 natural gas stations to support my father's candidacy'," Naderan told parliament's open session, using Mehdi Hashemi's name by his initials.

Speaking to IRNA, Mehdi Hashemi strongly rejected the allegations, denouncing them as 'sheer lies'.

"Certain individuals spread these rumors with special intentions and I will give them a strong answer within the coming days," he said.

Iranians are being held spellbound as Rafsanjani has dropped a hint to make a comeback, but falling short of making a clear announcement.

He has described presidential candidacy a bitter pill which he thinks he has to swallow.

"The issue of presidency is among the current preoccupations of my mind and although I would like someone else to accept this responsibility, I think I have to take this bitter medicine," his office quoted him as saying recently.

"I think I have to take this bitter medicine since what I didn't like to happen is apparently occurring," Rafsanjani told in response to a request made by a group of researchers and producers of the agriculture sector, calling on him to stand again.

An IRNA survey has found that Rafsanjani holds an early lead in voter intentions.

According to the IRNA polling of 7,100 people in 11 cities, 13.9% have said they would vote for Rafsanjani who was president from 1989 to 1997.

The next most popular candidate was former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, who was backed by 4.8% of those questioned.

Former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati came next with 4.2%, followed by former higher education minister Mostafa Moin with 4.1% and Ali Larijani with 3.9%.

However, none of the aspirants to replace President Mohammad Khatami will muster the 50% vote needed for an outright win in order to avoid a runoff election between the top two contenders, according to the poll.

Khatami is nearing the end of his second consecutive term and the Iranian constitution does not allow him to stand again.

Velayati has hinted that he may pull out of the race if Rafsanjani participates.

On Sunday, he lent his weight to Rafsanjani, describing him 'still a strong and lively' candidate.

"Given the surveys which have been carried out, Hashemi Rafsanjani has a better change than other candidates and in the event of his participation, all others should pull out in his favor," Velayati told a group of students here.

Karroubi, a pragmatic reformist, joined the presidential fray in January. Others running with a reform ticket are former higher education minister Mostafa Moin and incumbent Vice President Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh.

Karroubi has stressed that he 'will not pull out of the race in favor of anyone or will not ask anyone to do so'.

The tentative list is still growing, with Iran's point man on nuclear issues, Hassan Rowhani, having confirmed his intention to join the race as has the former head of the state broadcasting, Ali Larijani.

It also includes the former chief of the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaei, as well as Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But another aspirant, Ahmad Tavakkoli, gave up his bid early this month, saying he wanted to 'pave the way for the election of the ultimate nominee of the principlists', the word used to refer to fundamentalists in the nomenclature here.

In a statement, Tavakkoli cited worries over 'the high number of the principlist nominees and delay in the introduction of an ultimate candidate among existing volunteers' as reasons behind his decision.

"I feel duty-bound to pull out of the candidacy in order to strengthen solidarity among the principlist forces and fend off this grave danger so that the way is paved to field the principlists' final nominee and that enthusiasm and hope among the people is restored," Tavakkoli added.

An informed source told IRNA that Tavakkoli, who is a Tehran MP, had pulled out of the race in favor of Qalibaf.

"This resignation came following arrangements in order to announce Qalibaf as the final candidate of the principlists," said the source, speaking on the condition anonymity.

Qalibaf has said that he considers Rafsanjani as his only potential rival.

The former police chief has cited 'peoples' priorities, demands and concerns' among his own priorities which he will try to address if he is elected as the president.

Qalibaf, who is merited with an acceptable record as police chief, resigned from his post early last month."