Rouhani met with former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, and a former reformist presidential candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, in a series of well-publicized visits spread out across the day.
Rafsanjani and Khatami, respectively Iran’s most prominent centrist and reformist figures, endorsed Rouhani in the run-up to the election, while Aref dropped out of the race at the request of Khatami, in order to avoid splitting the reformist-moderate vote.
Rouhani’s visits followed a series of post-election meetings with members of Iran’s government, which raised speculations that Rouhani was distancing himself from the reformists and moderates that elected him over more conservative candidates in Iran’s presidential election on June 14.
Immediately after his first-round victory at the polls, Rouhani met with outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to discuss the terms of forming a joined committee for the transition period. He also met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani, all from the conservative camp.
Following attempts by the conservative media in Iran to distance Rouhani from the reformist camp, the president-elect visited Hashemi Rafsanjani at his home on Saturday morning, welcomed former Iranian presidential candidate Aref at his office in the afternoon, and hosted former president Khatami at home in the evening.
According to press reports, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of the influential Expediency Council, echoed his endorsement of Rouhani during the campaign in their meeting.
He said: “The policy of moderation and wisdom and the use of collective wisdom, which is the slogan of Dr Rouhani’s administration, can safeguard and strengthen the country’s national solidarity and comprehensive unity, and it can also help solve numerous domestic problems, in particular economic ones, and create constructive interaction with world countries on international issues.”
Rafsanjani added that the new sense of hope that emerged among Iranians following the June 14 presidential election was “a great and unique asset” for the future administration.
Following his meeting with Hashemi Rafsanjani, Rouhani met Aref in his office at the Centre for Strategic Research.
Aref’s decision to withdraw from the recent election was one of the primary factors in Rouhani’s victory in the first round.
Under Iranian law, if no candidate gets more than half of the popular vote, a second round run-off is held. Following Aref’s withdrawal, Iran’s reformists rallied behind Rouhani as the only remaining non-conservative candidate, leading to his victory with 50.7% of the votes cast.
Following the meeting, Aref announced that he was ready “to cooperate with president-elect Rouhani’s future administration,” and hinted that he was willing to serve alongside him in government.
Aref said: “it was such a friendly meeting and I have highlighted my points of view about the [forthcoming] administration. As I said before, my team and I are ready to help Dr. Rouhani in any field he needs our help in.”
Rouhani concluded his day by hosting former president Mohammad Khatami at his house. In a gesture to Iran’s conservatives, both men were careful to give assurances of their loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who in the Iranian political system retains overall control over most aspects of policy.
According to the account of the meeting issued by Rouhani’s aides, during the meeting Khatami said: “the Supreme Leader must be appreciated for creating the grounds of such a political epic,” which Rouhani said he agreed with.
Khatami also made a plea for reformists to show patience in the coming months, telling Rouhani: “you are taking the presidential office in the most difficult condition of Iran’s [modern] history. Our noble people understand that amending such a condition needs time.”
Rouhani is due to be sworn in as Iran’s president at the beginning of August.