Iran’s supreme leader says rejected election candidates were ‘wronged’

Iran’s supreme leader has said that some candidates rejected from this month’s presidential election had been “wronged” and unfairly smeared, but the country’s powerful Guardian Council said the decision to ban them would not be reversed.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on Iran’s affairs, last month endorsed the watchdog’s rejection of several prominent candidates – including former parliament speaker Ali Larijani – for the 18 June vote.

But in a speech on Friday, Khamenei said some of the disqualified candidates had been treated unfairly. “Some candidates were wronged. They were accused of untrue things that were unfortunately spread throughout the internet too. Protecting people’s honour is one of the most important issues. I call on the responsible bodies to restore their honour,” he said in a televised speech.

In response, Mohammad Mohajeri, one of Larijani’s media advisers, said: “The Guardian Council must explain clearly, quickly and transparently why such a big mistake has been made, and every person and entity that has given false information must be made public,”

Some members of Iran’s parliament and other candidates for the presidential race called for Larijani’s reinstatement even though the election campaign is well under way.

Larijani had taken his shock disqualification 10 days ago with little public complaint, saying he had done God’s duty by applying to stand.

The Guardian Council always filters candidates in Iranian elections to reduce the field to about six or seven, but its pruning this year was attacked as some of the most nakedly political disqualifications in the republic’s history.

Iran’s reformist vice-president, Ishaq Jahangiri, and former deputy interior minister Mostafa Tajzadeh were also left out. The criteria for exclusion – including factors such as age, piety and experience – give the council wide leeway.

The filtering of the field has led some reformists to say they will boycott the election since they have no candidate they can support, and others to rally behind the candidate closest to their thinking left in the contest, the former governor of Iran’s central bank Abdul Hemmati. The former governor joined the calls for Larijani’s reinstatement.

Larijani’s brother Sadegh Larijani, a member of the Guardian Council, had denounced his brother’s disqualification, saying that it was because of false information provided by the intelligence services.

But the Guardian Council said its decision to ban the candidates had not been affected by any rumours against them, and the prohibitions still stood.

The decision arguably leaves Iran in the worst situation with the Supreme leader acknowledging that a serious candidate has been wrongfully excluded from the field but nothing practical will be done to rectify the injustice.

It would have been an extraordinary step for the council to revise a decision that was reportedly taken by nine votes to three, and would raise profound questions about its legitimacy.

The authorities, secular and clerical, in recent days have been warning Iranians they have a moral duty to vote in the elections.

The warnings reflect fears that, with the field so fixed, the turnout for the elections will be very low – well below 40% – raising questions about the mandate of the victor. The reinsertion of Larijani into the field might have reignited interest in a contest.

At present, the authorities appear to have left little to chance to ensure Ibrahim Ra’isi, the head of the judiciary, wins.

 

Source: The Guardian