Rouhani calls on Khamenei to intervene after the elimination of moderate presidential candidates in Iran

Iranian President Hasan Rohani has announced that he has written to the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to improve the competitiveness of the June elections after the Guardian Council eliminated all moderate candidates.

“Yesterday I sent the leader of the Islamic Revolution a letter about the review of the list of qualified candidates, in which I asked him for help and acted if he deems it appropriate,” said Rouhani, according to the Iranian news agency Mehr.

He has argued that “competitiveness is the spirit of elections” and added that the only aim of the elections is not to elect the president but “to ensure the legitimacy of the political system through popular participation”.

Rouhani calls on Khamenei to intervene after the elimination of moderate presidential candidates in Iran
Rouhani calls on Khamenei to intervene after the elimination of moderate presidential candidates in Iran

Rouhani has emphasized that a president’s decisions would be “inadmissible” if they were not supported by the population, and at the same time he has opted for high voter turnout, according to the IRNA news agency.

The Home Office released the final list of candidates on Tuesday after the Guardian Council carried out the filtering. This list does not include the former Speaker of Parliament Ali Lariyani or the current Vice-President Eshaq Yahangiri, chief representative of the country’s moderates.

Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who was in office between 2005 and 2013 as in 2017, has also been expelled, while the head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, appears to be the consensus candidate of the ultra-conservatives.

Among the other candidates are former Revolutionary Guard chief Mohsen Rezaei, who currently heads the Council of Discrimination – a prominent body in the country; the former chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili; and the governor of the central bank, Abdolnaser Hemati.

The rest of the candidacies are those of former Vice President Mohsen Mehralizadé and MPs Alireza Zakani and Amirhosein Qazizadé-Hashemi, although they are less politically weighted and are not expected to receive a significant number of votes.

On the other hand, parliamentarians re-elected Mohamad Baqer Qalibaf as President of Parliament this Wednesday. In this vote, according to the Tasnim news agency, Ali Nikzad and Abdolreza Mesri were elected as vice-presidents.

The candidacies were approved in the middle of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna on the future of the 2015 nuclear deal, in which the United States is attempting to return to it, which it unilaterally abandoned in 2018.

The Iranian government has reduced its commitments to the agreement in response to the sanctions Washington has since imposed and is calling for its withdrawal and reintegration of the United States into the agreement in order to once again comply with all clauses.

The situation has once again highlighted the differences between the moderate current, led by Rouhani, in support of the nuclear deal, and the tough wing of the ultra-conservatives, including Khamenei, who criticized the 2015 pact.

The elections will be a new example of this controversy between conservatives and moderates, following the clear victory of the Conservatives in the 2020 general election, in which the turnout was the lowest since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a sign of the disillusionment of the people with the Iranian people political class.

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