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Iran Reformist Leader Warns of Protests in Wake of Ahmadinejad’s Presidential Bid | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad runs for upcoming presidential elections. (AFP)

London – Mohammad Reza Aref, head of the List of Hope Reformist Parliamentarian bloc, warned against plots targeting the unity of his party, accusing ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of creating tensions that could result in Tehran revisiting the 2009 mass protests that ended with a mass execution of dissidents.

Attorney General Mohammad Montazeri meanwhile said that rivals are “conspiring” against running safe national elections and had vowed to legally pursue the hardline former leader seeking another term in office, Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad’s contentious commentary made in Ahwaz, directed against Iranian authority, will be the premise on which Montazeri will build his case.

Tehran’s conservative Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf rode the wave anti-Ahmadinejad criticism, saying that the country’s regime could not withstand rabble-rousing or another “2009 demonstration”.

“Those seeking strife and making wild accusations are taking an uncalculated risk and jeopardizing national security and unity,” Ghalibaf said in an indirect remark against Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad vexed campaigning against current President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking another term in office.

Ghalibaf called on reformists in Iran to not be caught in the trap set up by those who “retaliate against the regime.” The Tehran mayor’s comment referred to Ahmadinejad’s clear violation of the Supreme Leader’s recommendation on him standing out the upcoming elections.

Khamenei asked Ahmadinejad to not register into this year’s presidential race in order to avoid further polarizing Iran. However, Ahmadinejad dropped a bombshell on Wednesday as election officials processed his bid for entering the presidential race.

After the 2009 election results announced that Ahmadinejad had won, supporters of moderate candidate presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi took to the streets to protest. The next day, protests grew, as did violence. On the night of June 14 that year, the pro-Ahmadinejad Basij paramilitary group raided Tehran University, injuring many.

Leading protesters were locked away with Khamenei calling for their execution, saying they are “people who wage war against God.”

Ahmadinejad’s move sparked widespread confusion in Iran, although he claimed that his chief goal was to back his ex-deputy Hamid Baghaei.

Most newspapers published this week that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy challenges the Guardian Council, which is Iran’s central election commission which has the power to disqualify a candidate—Ahmadinejad’s bid is a loud defiance to Khamenei’s orders, newspapers said.

In recent years, Ahmadinejad’s team has been known as the “nonconformist party” in Iran. The label came in consequence to his vice president Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei’s political rhetoric, which registered some of the most controversial comments when in office.

Mashaei would say that the Ahmadinejad administration is an indisputable embodiment of “Islam” and was directly linked to the prophesied redeemer of Islam, Mahdi.