‘Guardian Council’ was about to roil
’s June 17 presidential election
has been in the global news on two accounts.
First, it wants to blast off nuke to join the coveted nuclear club.
Second, its ‘Guardian Council’ tried in vain to roil the
upcoming presidential election. In
my earlier commentary, I have written how
wants to become a member of the nuclear club by thumbing its nose to
George Bush. In this article,
I will focus on how
’s ‘Guardian Council’ (or, is it their Guardian Angel!) is again
poking its nose to roil the election for the highest seat in the nation.
BBC on May 22, 2005, blurted out: “
bars pro-reform candidates.” I
was astounded reading the news about eligibility requirement imposed by
Iran’s ‘Guardian Council’ who became the sole arbiter of who could
run for the highest office or any office for that matter and who
couldn’t. As per news, more
than 1000 candidates submitted their qualification papers, which were then
vetted by the Council. The
Council had assumed the role of a watchdog body to screen candidates.
To the chagrin of many, the Council disqualified most candidates
and allowed only 6 out of 1000 candidates to run for the office; the
presidential election is slatted for June 17, 2005.
Among those disqualified are Mr. Mastafa Moin, who represented
’s largest reformist party, and Mr. Mohsen Mehralizadeh, another
It is worth mentioning here that the parliamentary polls that were
conducted on February 20, 2004, were also mired in controversy after the
same Council of Guardians watchdog barred about 2,500 reformist
’s powerful clerics have very cleverly appointed 12 men into the council
to safeguard their interest. This
way they could cling to the power for eons.
Democracy already received a black-eye visible from continent away
by the actions of the ‘Guardian Council.’
In the parliamentary election of February 2004, the Council vetted
the credentials of about 2500 reformist candidates only to declare them
not fit for the position. Needless
to say, in that farcical election Mullahs recaptured more seats in the
parliament and thereby put an end to reform in
This time around, the ‘Guardian Council’ became very agile just as
it became in February 2004. First,
they barred all the women who put forward their paper to run for the
position of president of
. The members of the Council
thought how silly it is that woman should run for the highest office.
After all, woman cannot be the supreme leader!
Mind you, the Iranian Mullahs are full of misogyny.
In this regard, the South Asian clerics are more liberal.
have elected woman to the highest office in land.
The ‘Guardian Council’ of
takes their job very seriously. Lest
they loosen the rule and let a woman become the president, the grand
Ayatollah from Khom would turn in his grave.
Look what have the council members done thus far.
The Council vetted all contestants for their moral values and
support for the Islamic system of government.
They barred all the female candidates.
And they allowed only a handful of candidates who they liked.
The former president and poll favorite, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
four conservatives and a reformist make up the approved field of
candidates. The four
hardliners are the former police chief, a former commander of
revolutionary guards, the mayor of
, and the former head of state radio and television.
According to BBC,
’s former parliamentary speaker, Mehdi Karrubi remains on the list, but
the correspondent say he had not been the reformists’ main contender.
The June 17 election is to replace outgoing President Mohammad
Khatami, who cannot run for the third time as mandated by
The action of the Council had brought condemnation both from
and outside. In addition, the
world knows by now that the ‘Guardian Council’ is the handiwork of
’s ruling clergies to control the election process.
Therefore, to give a semblance of fair play,
’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged a hard-line watchdog to
reinstate two reformists barred from the June 17 presidential race after
the largest pro-reform party said it would boycott the vote.
Ayatollah Khamenei who has the last word in all state matters but
who rarely intervenes openly in political affairs could offer reformists a
hope to retain the presidency held by pro-reform cleric Mohammad Khatami
The ‘Guardian Council’ and conservative clerics would like to see
the chameleon candidate, Hashemi Rafsanjani, become the president.
They know that if a strong reformist candidate runs in the race, he
may come out winner in the election. Therefore,
the best the ‘Guardian Council’ may have done is to block the
strongest candidate from reformist party to enter the election.
That is what they have done in the first leg of the vetting
process. Rafsanjani is a
colorful Mullah whose message of detente with the West and economic
liberalization appeals to reformist supporters.
Therefore, it will be interesting watch the election result later
in June 2005.
Ayatollah Khamenei wrote a letter to the ‘Guardian Council’ urging
them to include two more candidates both from reformist party so that
“people from all political tendencies” may take part in the voting
The former Education Minister, Mastafa Moin, is an outspoken reformist
who has promised to tackle human rights abuses if elected.
The other liberal candidate, Mehralizadeh, who is Vice President
for Sport and was not considered a serious contender.
Mr. Moin’s disqualification by the ‘Guardian Council,’ a
panel of 12 clerics and jurists with sweeping powers, drew angry protest
’s largest reformist party.
’s clergy under the leadership of Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini had
followed typical Sha’ria-based constitution for
. Thus, they instituted a
Shura or council calling it the ‘Guardian Council,” which has sweeping
power. This concept of Shura
runs counter to democracy, which the clergies have hard time
under clergies has put one foot to modern world and the other foot to
sixth century world. This
experimentation is not going to work.
While the conservative Mullahs would like to build
patterned after Islamic Utopia, the young generation Iranians has other
ideas. They become very
excited when one talks about western-style democracy.
However, the old guards of Mullahs who are in the catbird seat of
power would like to efface any movement to usher in western-style
Many reformist supporters have openly said that if Mr. Mastafa Moin
were barred from participating in the presidential election, then it would
be a sham election.
’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is a shrewd cleric.
He realized that if Mr. Mastafa Moin were to bar from taking part
in the election, then
would earn the dubious distinction of the nation that had conducted a sham
and dubious election. Besides,
already had elected a reformist president in the last two elections.
The clergies have learned that if
has to flourish economically in the twenty first century as a pragmatic
nation, then it needs reformist leader at the helm.
In summary, Iran’s ‘Guardian Council’ that is perceived by
clergies as purveyor of Sha’ria law has done it again by barring most
reformist candidates in the upcoming presidential election slatted for
June 17, 2005. However, the
supreme clergy, Ayatollah Khamenei, had intervened and urged the Council
to allow two reformist candidates to participate in the election.
is in no mood to abolish the vile ‘Guardian Council’ for the fear that
the nation may veer towards modernity, which the Mullahs in
Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist,