Friday, May 27, 2005

To run or not, in the elections, reformists face a disaster

Safa Haeri, Iran Press Service:
As Mr. Mostafa Moi’in, the controversial lead candidate of the reformists indicated Thursday 26 May 2005 that he would announce his decision to remain in the presidential race or not, his case has developed into a hot subject of debate among Iranian analysts, commentators and political formations inside and outside the country.

Disqualified by the Council of the Guardians (CG) on Sunday 22 May 2005 alongside 2007 other persons who had registered for presidency, including a dozen independent personalities, Mr. Mo’in and Mr. Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh were allowed to run by the same organ after it received a letter from Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic ordering the “review” of the situation of the two above cited candidates. READ MORE

If the disqualified candidates have real problems, why they should be qualified and if not, why they have been rejected”, asked an Iranian while another, hiding behind the (possible) faked name of Hasan, observed how come that well known men like Mo’in or Mehralizadeh who had served in high positions because of their confirmation by the Council of the Guardians are now disqualified by the same instance and if they really have no competence for whatever reasons, why should the leader impose them on the voters?.

Except Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, the Speaker of the last Majles, supported by a the pro-reform Association of Militant Clergymen and a minority of reformists and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Chairman of the powerful Expediency Council and president from 1989 to 1997, the leader-controlled Council of the Guardians qualified four other runners, all former revolutionary guards officers backed by various conservative factions.

For a great number of experts, including the Guardians themselves, the letter of Mr. Khameneh’i to the CG is a State Order, an exclusive power reserved to the leader, who, a God’s representative on earth is above the Constitution and laws and has the last saying on every major issue facing the Islamic Republic.

The radical daily “Keyhan”, a mouthpiece of Mr. Khameneh’i, in an editorial on Wednesday, also said that Mr. Mo’in has been allowed to stay in the race because of the leader’s “State Order”.

"No matter how one interprets the letter, the result is that the great leader has told the Council of the Guardians that he would like to see Dr. Mo'in in the race", the daily commented.

For some others, including the outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, the letter is not a State Order and Mr. Khameneh’i has given instructions to an organ he controls, correcting a wrong decision that in the words of Tehran University professor Dr. Sadeq Ziba Kalam, has “cost the nation and the people heavily”.

“I am against the decision (of the CG), as I was for the last Majles’ elections (in which the CG had disqualified more than 2.000 reformist candidates, including many members of the sixth Majles). We must try to turn the opponents into supporters and not reject them, turning the supporters into opponents”, he told journalists on Tuesday. However, I think Mr. Mo’in should run, if not, he would have made a great strategic mistake”.

In an editorial published on Thursday 26 May, Mr. Mohammad Qouchani, the young editor of the independent daily “Sharq” backed the view of the President, saying that regardless of the nature of the leader’s letter; Mr. Mo’in should take part in the elections to make them “as pluralistic and democratic as possible”.

“A reformist, Mr. Mo’in entered the race not to become a hero, but president. The country does need champions or heroes, but competent, political leaders”, he observed, agreeing however that the issue has badly divided the reformist camp into supporters and opponents to the participation of the former Higher Education minister in the elections.

In his first reaction, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), le country’s largest political formation led by the president’s younger brother Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami stated that if Mr. Mo’in is disqualified, the Party would boycott the elections.

But after the intervention of Mr. Khameneh’i in his favour, IIPF revised its decision, saying it would vote, despite many dissidents warning that going into the elections under present conditions is tantamount a programmed death for the reformers, already rejected by the majority of the Iranians.

“Mr. Mo’in’s and his supporters running in the elections thanks to the decision of the leader mean that they have lost everything. Not only he and his backers should abstain from the elections, but also denounce the whole electoral process and also raise their voices in support of other disqualified candidates, proving to the world that elections in Islamic Iran are a pitiful selection”, wrote Ms. Maliheh Mohammadi, an Iranian dissident living in Germany in the internet site “Iran Emrooz” (Iran Today).

For Mr. Hoseyn Baqerzadeh, a veteran human rights campaigner based in England, the “elections game in the Islamic Republic of Iran is over and Mr. Khameneh’i, with his intervention in this comedy-tragedy, has “put the last nail to the coffin of the elections”.

“The politicians around Mr. Khameneh’i developed a plot to make the reformists their tributaries in the one hand and on the other, make sure their defeat, knowing well that the participation of Mr. Mo’in in the race would turn away many reformist voters”, he added.

According to a recent survey by a Students opinion taker, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani would get 38 per cent of the votes in the first round, followed by General Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the former Police Commander and Mr. Karroubi, with Mr. Mo'in ending the list, with arround 4 per cent of the votes.

The intervention of the leader in the elections provided the reformists with a golden opportunity. Now that thanks to the gift of the leader, they can again be present in an elections where they defeat is almost certain, the reformists can, by saying no to the elections and by boycotting them, buy some of their lost credits, popularity and prestige”, he pointed out.