Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ebrahim Yazdi to Run for Presidency

Khaleej Times Online, DPA:
Leading Iranian secular dissident Ebrahim Yazdi said on Tuesday that he would conditionally run for the presidency in elections slated for June 17. Certain conditions must be first met for preparing the grounds for decent political work,” Yazdi told reporters at a press conference.

The candidate of the Freedom Movement Party named the release of all political prisoners, securing press freedom and increasing the power of democratically-elected bodies as the main conditions for his nomination. read more

We must win the people’s trust and if the rulers insist on continuing the same course as in the parliamentary elections (in February 2004), they will commit a severe strategic mistake both internally and externally,” warned the US-graduated Yazdi, who was foreign minister in the early phase of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In the 2004 parliamentary elections, more than 2,000 candidates from the reformist wing were simply disqualified by the clergy, resulting in an easy win of the conservative wing.

During his eight-year tenure, President Mohammad Khatami, who cannot run for a third term, has failed to realize Yazdi’s demands.

The main hurdle for Khatami and his reformist supporters for implementing an Islamic democracy has been the influence of so-called ”appointed bodies”, consisting mainly of conservative clerics.

These bodies are not democratically elected but appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state affairs.

The two main appointed bodies opposing Khatami’s reform movement in the last eight years were the senate-like Guardian Council and the judiciary.

While the Guardian Council is constitutionally authorized to veto parliamentary bills, the judiciary has the power to close down newspapers and arrest journalists and dissidents on charges which reformists consider as not clearly specified in the law and therefore not legal.

The hottest candidate for succeeding Khatami is the 70-year-old former President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, challenged only by reformist candidate Mostafa Moein.

Political observers believe that, considering the crisis over the nuclear dispute with the European Union and the United States, Rafsanjani is the only candidate who could lead the country in what are expected to be upcoming turbulent times.
Rafsanjani is so unpopular that in the last election he could not even be elected to a seat in the parliament.