October 12, 2008


Karroubi: I will run for President (Press TV, 12 Oct 2008)

[Prominent reformist figure and cleric, Mehdi] Karroubi is the Secretary General of Iran's National Confidence Party, and in August was unanimously nominated as the party's candidate in the next presidential elections, which take place on June 12 2009. [...]

This will be the second time Karroubi has run for president. He was among the candidates of the reformist camp in the 2005 presidential elections.

The cleric finished third in the vote count, closely following the frontrunners, ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mehdi Karroubi: Iran’s Most Prominent Reformist Speaks (Asharq Al-Awsat, 11/04/2007)

Hujjat al Islam Mehdi Karroubi sent two letters to Iran’s Guardian Jurist and Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei that changed his life forever. Karroubi who was parliamentary [majlis] speaker from 1989-1992 and 2000-20004 resigned from his post on June 19th, 2005. In those two letters, he renounced his positions as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s advisor and as a member of the State Expediency Council and began his life as an oppositional reformist.

The first letter was a ‘complaint’ and accusations against what he called a network, comprised of mosques, elements from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basijis [Tehran University’s Basij volunteer group] who were interfering on the behalf of the conservative then-candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the first round of the presidential elections. Hashemi Rafsanjani led the race with a total of 21 percent of the votes, while Ahmadinejad came in second with 19.48 percent followed by Karroubi in third place with 19.3 percent of the votes.

In his first letter Karroubi named Mojtaba Khamenei, Ali Khamenei’s son, as one of those implicated in the network supporting Ahmadinejad, moreover calling upon the Supreme Leader to order an investigation into the transgressions. Khamenei’s answer came back in a letter in which he said that these accusations were below Karroubi, warning him that it could give turn into a political crisis in Iran and that he would not allow for that to happen. The next day, Karroubi called on his supporters to confront what he said was electoral rigging and to “defend the nation from the symbol of dictatorship” in reference to Ahmadinejad who had pledged that his victory would signify the transformation of Iran into a new ‘Taliban’ state in the region. Karroubi described the elections as, “the blackest page in the history of ideological struggle” in Iran between the different trends.

Karroubi responded by an open letter that he sent to the Guardian Jurist of which he also sent copies to the Iranian press. It contained his resignation and a call for intervention to prevent further bitterness that was already borne by the reformist trend because of the interferences that were taking place in the elections. “I ask of you to intervene to stop some of the IRGC forces and officials’ unlawful interference in the elections… You must not allow further bitterness to be added on to the old…” it said. Some newspapers published the letter, such as Aftab-e-Yazd and Etemad – they were banned from distribution on that day. It was also said that Karroubi was placed under house arrest the very next day.

Since that day, Karroubi, 68 years old, has joined the oppositional reformist movement in Iran, or rather the ‘pragmatic reformist’ movement as it should be described. Among the guiding rules of the trend is participation and involvement in the political game, which is why Karroubi voiced his criticism to Asharq Al-Awsat regarding the reformists who had decided to boycott the elections and of the large number of candidates who nominated themselves in the elections, all of which has led to the dispersion and loss of votes for the reformists. [...]

Q: You have tried for a long time to change the electoral laws in Iran but you have failed, what are the forces that pose obstacles?

A: There were problems in the electoral law that has been amended – but we still face problems with the Assembly of Experts. There is a misunderstanding between us over the interpretation of the constitution. The Assembly of Experts monitored the elections. We concede that the Assembly of Experts should ‘monitor’ the elections so as to ensure transparency, however it upholds that it ‘has the authority’ to prevent the nomination of some of the candidates, which is the point of contention. Furthermore, some parties within the reformist movement have fanned the flames of this conflict higher, which has caused us a great deal of harm. We could have been able to convince the Assembly of Experts with our view were it not for these interferences, which have unfortunately prevented that from happening.

Q: What is the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s position on that matter?

A: The Supreme Leader’s adopted a positive stance and in some cases intervened himself to resolve the problem but when the problem escalated he no longer intervened and distanced himself. But we also have a different kind of problem and that is that the Assembly of Experts is the body entitled with the interpretation of the constitution; it is thus at once the problem and its solution. In all cases in the political world it is necessary to cooperate with others, and if that does not happen the problems only become deeper.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2008 8:17 AM
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