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Iran: Reformist candidate Aref to establish own political party - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In this photo taken on Friday, May 10, 2013, pro-reform former Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref, waves to media during his press conference, after registering his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, at the election headquarters of the interior ministry in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo)

In this photo taken on Friday, May 10, 2013, pro-reform former Iranian vice president Mohammad-Reza Aref waves to media during his press conference after registering his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election at the election headquarters of the interior ministry in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Mohammad-Reza Aref, the reformist presidential candidate who withdrew from the race to consolidate the reformist–moderate front culminating in Hassan Rouhani’s victory at the polls, revealed that he is considering establishing an “all-inclusive” political party.

Aref, who served as Iran’s first vice president under Seyed Mohammad Khatami, is also said to be a serious contender for the same position in Rouhani’s administration.

His intentions to establish a political party come at a time when some parties and syndicates have been experiencing a slightly more moderate environment following Rouhani’s presidential victory on June 14.

Speaking in Yazd on Thursday, the ILNA news agency reported Aref as saying: “We should move towards a civil society, where democratic organizations have a high position.”

“I have proposed the creation of an all-inclusive party and we are now studying preparations for this,” he said, adding that they need to “establish a party that is not dependent on well-known individuals.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the Ahmadinejad government in has taken a more lenient stance towards some parties, syndicates and critical press in its final days. Such moderation may be due to the weakened position of radicals in both Ahmadinejad’s government and the judiciary.

Nevertheless, the defeated radical faction is determined to restructure themselves and come back stronger than ever at the next elections. It therefore serves their interests to see a more open political climate over the next four years, in order to benefit from the political parties and associations on the scene.

Meysam Bassam-Tabar, an official at Iran’s Interior Ministry, announced earlier this week that the “Committee for Article 10” has not renewed the permit for Iran’s Teachers’ Association, meaning that the activities of the association are now illegal. One day later, the official came out to amend his announcement, saying that the Interior Ministry will consider an application from the association to renew its permit.

The Committee for Article 10 was set up in 1982 in order to issue permits to establish parties and associations. The committee also is tasked with supervising the conduct of all political and non-political parties and groups.

The committee includes representatives from the judiciary, the government and the parliament, and falls under the purview of the Interior Ministry.

The latest controversial decision by the committee was the banning of two pro-reform parties, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization, in early 2010.

Iran’s Teachers’ Association was established in 1999, but has come under increasing governmental scrutiny over the past few years.