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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at


Published Tuesday, May 17, 2005

PARIS, 17 May (IPS) The inscription of over 1000 people, some of them fully illiterate is the perfect illustration of, if not the "banality" of the job of president in the existing political system of Islamic Republic, but also its "futility", according to professional Iran watchers.

The Interior Ministry announced on Sunday 15 May 2005 that 1,014 people had registered at the closing hours of Saturday, with most of them, probably one thousands, -- including some 100 women who, as second-class humans under Islamic laws are not allowed to become president --, expected to be rejected out hand by the Council of the Guardians, an un-elected, but powerful institution in charge of deciding on the legitimacy of runners in all Iranian elections.

“This is a world record in the number of people enlisting for presidency anywhere in the globe”, noted Russian newspapers ironically.

This is a world record in the number of people enlisting for presidency anywhere in the globe.

Out of the 814 people who had registered for the last presidential election of May 2001, the 12-members Council that like all other key positions in the Islamic Republic is directly controlled by the leader of the regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, had accepted just 10 names. It also caused outrage when it barred over 2000 candidates, the great majority of them reformists, from the last Legislative elections.

A spokesman for the Guardians said the final list of candidates was likely to be released after 10 days, given the huge number of inscriptions.

The official election campaign starts on 27 May and would last up to 15 June, with the elections scheduled for 17 June 2005.

The profusion of candidates has led to many personalities and political organizations, including hard liners, to call for the necessity of changing the existing electoral laws that sets no conditions for people to register in elections but at the same time allows the Council of the Guardians to reject people without providing any explanations.

Mr. Jahanbakhsh Khanjani, an official spokesman for the Interior Ministry told reporters on Tuesday 17 May 2005 that “officials and observers in charge of the elections all agree that it is necessary to review Iranian electoral laws”.

“How can a 16-years old girl or a man aged 76 and still student could in all honesty occupy the second most important position of the nation?”, he asked, noting that among the people who have registered, 30 are under 20 years and five above 80 and 126 other unemployed.

But there are also 22 clerics, 8 students and collegians, 2 former lawmakrs, 22 physicians and 34 scholars.


More than the presidency of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from 1989 to 1997, it was the eight years of his successor, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami that proved the impotency of the position, hence demands for both the boycott of the elections and change of the Constitution.

Twice elected with each time more than 20 million votes, mostly from the young ones, Mr. Khatami, a mid-rank, mild mannered, rive gauche café intellectual cleric leaves his seat in a mood of quasi indifference by the public after being plebiscite as one of Iran’s most popular political figure, only because the ruling conservatives led by Mr. Khatami refused to let him implement a minimum of the reforms he had promised.

“Will the future president be able to decide on important issues such as ties with the United States or the nuclear program? Can he decide on relations with Israel, a cardinal obstacle in our foreign relations?”, asked Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, a commentator at the Persian service of the BBC in a recent conference in Tehran.

More than 500 politicians and intellectuals, some former lawmakers and intellectuals, have announced that since the 17 June election cannot be free and fair, they will abstain from voting, as "the people only have the freedom to choose from among those candidates chosen by the state".

The presence of a relatively important number of senior officers from the Revolutionary Guards has prompted some politicians and commentators to warn against the dangers of “bonapartism” in Iran.

"People are being called to participate while many of the most important circles of power and the appointed people have complete control on all the avenues of executive power", the statement said, adding that “under present circumstances where the rulers are determined to keep the power despite the people’s will and in the absence of real political parties and a free press, there is no point going to the ballot boxes”.

“A collection of 300 men, grabbing and monopolising all powers have taken 70 millions Iranians as their hostages”, observed Mr. Akbar A’lami, a former lawmaker from Tabriz, the capital city of Eastern Azarbaijan.

However, of the leading candidates, four of them former militaries, only Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani seems to be able to respond to the demands of some categories of the voters, above all the private entrepreneurs, most of them connected to the ruling conservatives.

“The former president is seen as a pragmatic conservative, open to better ties with the West but more socially conservative than the reformists”, the BBC's Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison says.

Her view is confirmed by travellers who, out of Iran recently, told Iran Press Service that for the people, confused and bewildered, not only the Chairman of the Expediency Council in better known, but also regarded as “less radical than the official hard liners but least reformist than official reformers that have deceived the nation”.

It is interesting to note that the most virulent and pernicious attacks against Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani come from the radical wing of the establishment.

In a short item, the conservative daily Jomhouri Eslami (Islamic Republic) that belongs to Mr. Khameneh’i and is supporting Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani revealed on 14 May 2005 that immediately after the former president had announced his decision to run for the presidency, groups connected to the right wing produced and distributed 20 millions of CD very critical to the person of Mr. Hashemi.

“At about the same time, the leftists distributed booklets containing same kind of literature”, the paper said, quoting officials from the “Moderation and Development Party”.

The backing of this paper to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani confirms the view of those among the observers who say that some sort of agreement has been reached between the two men.

“Khameneh’i, by giving the green light to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, might be in the process of getting rid of the ultras who also controls him, thanks to the power and the political skill of his old time friend and foe”, speculated Mr. Mehdi Keyhani, an Iran watcher.

As the Coordination Committee of the Principalists (Osoulgerayan) picked Mr. Ali Larijani, the hated former Head of Iranian Radio and Television as their official nominee, General Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the former Commander of the Police, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, the Mayor of Tehran and Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, the Secretary of the Expediency Council formed an anti-Larijani, anti-Rafsanjani coalition, each of them saying they would not get out of the race.

But Mr. Mohammad Qouchani, the young Editor of the independent “Sharq” newspaper dashed off this danger, observing that very soon, a throat cutting fight would take place among the three former Revolutionary Guards officers, as all of them have stated that they would not leave the race in favour of any other runner.

The presence of a relatively important number of senior officers from the Revolutionary Guards has prompted some politicians and commentators to warn against the dangers of “bonapartism” in Iran.

“No matter of their grades, our officers have demonstrated their ignorance of realities and their big mistakes and miscalculations during events in Afghanistan and Iraq”, said Mr. Ebrahim Asqarzadeh, the General Secretary of the “Solidarity Party” and one of the students who stormed the American Embassy in Tehran on November 1979, taking 55 American diplomats and staff as hostages for 444 days.

He was referring to the officers who, day after day after the United States attacked Afghanistan and latter Iraq, in so-called “briefings” on the Iranian Television about the unfolding situations, would predict “quagmire” or “Vietnam” for the American forces.

One interesting factor of the present elections is its “pluripolarity”, as contrary to previous presidential elections, particularly that of May 1997 where two wings where fighting, this time, one is witness to candidates standing at four corners: The Principalists and the so-called Coalition (of former Generals) on the far right; Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani in the centre, Mr. Mostafa Mo’in, the former Higher Education Minister and reformists leading candidate and Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, the Speaker of the last Majles on the left.

“Not only the leading candidates have no program, but also the number of aspiring people would rather add to the indifference of the voters instead of warming up the electoral campaign”, noted the pro-conservative “Jam e Jam” daily, edited by the Voice and Visage (Radio and Television) of the Islamic Republic.


“I have no program. I had no time for that. But I shall call for an accomountability by every one. Go and see what people say in the taxis or at sandwich stands to hear people saying they want a Reza Khan. I shall be a Reza Khan, but of a Hezbollahi type”, Mr. Qalibaf said recently, referring to Reza Shah, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty that was toppled by the Islamic Revolution of 1979.Top of Form

As the clerical rulers regards the number ofBottom of For voters as a gauge of public support for their regime, a confidential survey produced by the Intelligence Ministry shows that less than half of the interviewees have said they would go to the polls.

“People are expecting something to happen; something like in Ukraine and are encouraged in this feeling by the silence of leading opponents and dissidents of the regime, thinking that they knows things that they ignore about”, one Iranian activist told IPS on condition of not being named.

Dr. Houshang Amir Ahmadi, Chairman of the American-Iranian Council, the best group lobbying for rapprochement between Tehran and Washington, in a recent interview with the online “Baztab” news service that belongs to Mr. Reza’i warned about the “fragile” situation of the Islamic Republic, saying that “a regime that, because of the excesses of the rulers, has lost its legitimacy and opponents that proposes no other solution than nagging, is obviously on the road to collapse”. ENDS IRAN ELECTIONS 17505


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As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Where else in the world a 16-years old girl or a man with no knowledge of anything become president?



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