Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hardliners plans for the election of the assembly which chooses the Supreme Leader

Hamid Ahadi, Rooz Online:
Five months into the elections of Majlis Khobregan (the Experts Assembly responsible for monitoring the performance of the leader of the Islamic regime and choosing his successor), the competition between varying clerical organizations in Iran is at its height.

With the certainty that right-wing ayatollah Meshkini who is the current president of the assembly will not run for office, and at time when the political standing and power of the clergy is seriously under question since they came to power some 27 years ago, who sits in the saddle of this institution has now become a key political issue. If no new candidate enters the field, then the seat shall go to either Hashemi Rafsanjani or Mesbah Yazdi. But the two shall have a hot fight before that.

It appears that some hardline clerics in Qom, led by reactionary ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, are determined to use this election to end the political life of Hashemi Rafsanjani. READ MORE

On the other hand, what worries Rafsanjani’s political comrades-in-arms is a repetition of the events of the last presidential elections. Specifically, that the rejection of many candidates by the Guardians Council may lead to apathy and public decision not to take part in the elections. This is what happened during the elections for provincial councils and the presidency last year. In those instances, with many staying away from the polls, the conservatives and hardliners became the majority and won the races.

It is also reported that some groups on the right such as Jamiat-e Isargaran do not wish to have Rafsanjani on their ballots, even though this groups does not openly say so. At the same time it has asked him not to become a candidate from the reformers groups.

Last week, Ghassem Ravanbakhsh a student of cleric Mesbah Yazdi criticized earlier politicians such as Rafsanjani, former president Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rohani the former head of the National Security Council and said they should be disqualified to run for the Khobregan elections by the Guardians Council. Writing in Parto journal, he said, “The life of leftist and rightist groups is over. During the Khobregan elections, just like the presidential one, the people’s list will prevail.”

Ravanbakhsh showed his confidence when he said that the very same strategy that was used during the seventh Majlis and last presidential elections in June 2005 would win the Khobregan elections, with help from the Guardians Council. This would complete the take over of key institutions of the Islamic regime.