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Khamenei’s Orders Reflect Fears for Iran’s 2017 Elections, Rift | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Ali Khamenei, shown at a 2009 clerical gathering, oversees an organization called Setad that has assets estimated at about $95 billion. REUTERS/Khamenei.ir/Handout

London-Two weeks after Iran’s government warned the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, of the country falling into a wide rift, he ordered a score of decrees prohibiting authority from interfering into issues concerning partisanship or polarization.

Iran now experiences rapid polarization, with the two main camps belonging to either President Rouhani’s government, which allegedly is moderate, or the ultra-conservative Revolutionary Guard. Political controversy is heating ahead of the upcoming May 2017 presidential elections.

Khamenei published on Sunday 18 articles, the stipulations mainly address general policies relative to upcoming polls. In the text, all three executive, judicial and legislative authorities are not to get involved in political and electoral campaigns.

State media carried election guidelines issued by Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state. They called for “setting the scope and type of expenses and sources of legal and illicit campaign expenses by candidate and increasing the transparency of resources…”

Khamenei’s instructions are based on Article 110 of the Iranian constitution, which stipulates the supreme leader’s authoritative power in Iran. The orders come at a time when the date for enlisting candidates for the May 2017 elections is right around the corner.

Khamenei’s orders on curbing government institutions from getting involved in elections present a new pressure factor playing into the hands of Rouhani’s government that already exchanges accusations with Khamenei’s ultra-conservative bloc on exploiting authority for partisan goals.

Election fraud is rarely reported openly, but the head of the Guardian Council, the top election watchdog, said after parliamentary elections in early 2016 that “vote-buying is becoming more common.”

More so, the controversial yet undisputable orders come ahead of debates storming Iran on the identity of the presidential candidates.

Political argument augmented namely after former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced plans to run for the position again.

Khamenei’s surprising commands reveal deep concerns in Tehran on upcoming election season, especially that the conservative bloc does not wish to repeat the 2013 election defeat.

Election season for Iran is reason to many fears among its authoritative bands, namely after the 2009 presidential election which witnessed protests that almost toppled the ruling regime.

Khamenei’s listed orders also banned any election activity from receiving foreign funding or employ foreign services to back any candidate.

President Hassan Rouhani will be seeking a second term to push ahead with reforms resisted by powerful hardliners.