London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Comments made by Ayatollah Jannati during a Friday Prayer sermon in Tehran have fueled extreme voices within the radical faction to push for Hashemi Rafsanjani’s disqualification from the next presidential elections by the Guardian Council.
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of Iran’s Kayhan daily newspaper, has urged the Guardian Council to disqualify candidates with links to the reformists. In his Saturday editorial Shariatmadari reminded Jannati that “if the Council is to disapprove pious and corrupt-free candidates merely due to their political inexperience, then it is much more obliged to disqualify well experienced politicians who, despite this, are known to be lenient to the enemies of the establishment”.
This comes in sharp contrast with statements made by Shariatmadari just days before Hashemi Rafsanjani’s registration in early May when he vouchsafed the former president’s qualification and eligibility to run for office. Despite this, Shariatmadari politely urged Rafsanjani not to run on the grounds that he did not have enough popularity and would most likely be defeated.
Hashemi Rafsanjani’s entry into the presidential race has shaken the previously straightforward road-map regarding who can or should be the next president. MP Ali Motahari, known until four years ago as being an arch supporter of the principalist (osoulgara) faction, denounced Ayatollah Jannati’s implicit attacks on Hashemi Rafsanjani.
“His [Jannati’s] comments during the Friday prayer sermon were demagogy and totally irrational”, said Motahari to parliamentary reporters yesterday.
He warned Jannati and other radicals against repeating the mistaken methods used in previous elections.
ISNA quoted MP Motahari as saying: “We have tricked people in previous elections to push their vote where we wanted and now we have arrived at such misery and melancholy,” in an oblique reference to Ahmadinejad’s presidency.
The combination of the Ahmadinejad government’s total incompetence in managing the economy and crippling international sanctions against the country’s oil and financial sector has left the Iranian electorate in a desperate situation. Unresolved bitterness and distrust inherited from the last disputed election also lingers between the ruling faction and the vast majority of the middle-class and educated sectors of the society.
Rasul Sanaie-Rad, head of the political office of the Islamist Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC), described the forthcoming election as being “multi-faceted, complex and unpredictable.” In a meeting with a group of seminary students he explained the next election would be “different and unique”, particularly as the presidential elections will be held alongside City and Village Council elections.
“The City Council elections have been marginalized by the presidential election, but some are eagerly waiting to see if these will provide an opportunity for them to enter the system,” added Sanaie-rad.
Less than two days before the final list of approved candidates are announced by the Guardian Council, the radicals are pushing to ensure that Hahsemi Rafsanjani either withdraws or is disqualified. Either of these scenarios is unlikely and this perhaps explains why the conservative faction is splitting into extremists opposing Rafsanjani and moderates supporting him.