Monday, May 23, 2005

Iran's Khamenei calls for review of election field - May Lead To Enemies of the Republic On The Ballot

World News Article | Reuters.co.uk:

Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei leads Iran because of a system called Velayat e Fiqh. This is the rule of the supreme jurisprudence. In a theocracy the supreme jurisprudence takes on aspects similar to a cross between the Pope and the Supreme Court. Now Ayatollah Khamenei is willing to allow men who oppose Velayat e Fiqh to run for President. Enemies of the Islamic Republic feel the key to destroying the present government is to discredit Ayatollah Khamenei and Velayat e Fiqh. It is a daring and confusing move for Ayatollah Khamenei to make. JBOC

"Iran's Khamenei calls for review of election field
Mon May 23, 2005 5:23 PM BST

By Amir Paivar
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday urged a hardline watchdog to reinstate two reformists barred from the June 17 presidential race after the largest pro-reform party said it would boycott the vote.

The surprise move by Khamenei, who has the last word in all state matters but rarely intervenes openly in political affairs, could offer reformists a lifeline to retain the presidency held by pro-reform cleric Mohammad Khatami since 1997.

It may also damage the chances of front-runner Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate conservative whose message of detente with the West and economic liberalisation appeals to reformist supporters.

In a letter to the Guardian Council -- which on Sunday said it had qualified just six candidates, nearly all conservatives, for the presidential race -- Khamenei said it would be "preferable for people from all political tendencies" to take part in the vote.

"Therefore, it seems the qualification of Mostafa Moin and Mohsen Mehralizadeh should be reviewed," state television quoted the letter as saying.

Former Education Minister Moin is an outspoken reformist who has promised to tackle human rights abuses if elected. Mehralizadeh is Vice President for Sport and was not considered a serious contender.

Moin's disqualification by the Guardian Council, a panel of 12 clerics and jurists with sweeping powers, drew angry reaction from Iran's largest reformist party.

SHAM VOTE

"The illegal disqualification of candidates will turn the elections into a vote which is ... in one word a sham," the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) said in a statement.

"The IIPF ... will not participate in these elections." It said it would take part if Moin's ban was reversed.

The reformist-run Interior Ministry said in a statement the exclusion of some candidates "creates grave concerns" about voter turnout and urged the Guardian Council to review its decision "to avoid unfavourable consequences".

A campaign spokesman for Rafsanjani had also called on Khamenei to intervene over the disqualifications.

Public reaction to the decision to bar Moin was muted, with most Iranians resigned to a conservative win.

"Why should I care?" asked Haleh, 40. "It doesn't matter who we vote for, the system will still stay the same. I prefer not to vote at all."

Tackling such apathy is one of the greatest concerns of Khamenei who has repeatedly stressed the need for a high turnout to show the country's enemies that Iranians still support the system of clerical rule introduced in 1979.

In addition to Rafsanjani, 70, who was president from 1989 to 1997, the Guardian Council had approved just one reformist -- former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi.

The remaining four candidates -- Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Larijani, Mohsen Rezaie and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- are all former members of the conservative Revolutionary Guards.

Opinion polls suggest Qalibaf, 43, is Rafsanjani's closest challenger. Analysts speculate that some of the hardline candidates, possibly Rezaie and Ahmadinejad, will drop out before the election to consolidate the anti-Rafsanjani vote.

The Council did not announce its reasons for disqualifying Moin. In 2004 it barred hundreds of reformists from standing for parliament on the grounds that they had shown insufficient loyalty to Iran's system of clerical rule."