Iran’s powerful Guardian Council will consider whether or not to disqualify a pro-reform candidate from running in the presidential elections on Friday June 14th.
On Sunday night, the Fars news agency, which is associated with the Revolutionary Guards, quoted an “informed” source as saying that the Guardian Council, Iran’s electoral watchdog, would hold an urgent meeting on Monday morning to discuss Hassan Rohani’s disqualification from the presidential race.*
“Supporting the leaders of the sedition during speeches, divulging [confidential] state information and carrying out actions contrary to [national] security, such as a rally by Rohani’s supporters in Jamaran, are some of the reasons for which the Guardian Council has decided to reconsider the qualification of this candidate once more,” the source allegedly told Fars news.
“Sedition,” is the Iranian regime’s epithet for the opposition Green Movement that was born out of the 2009 presidential election.
The anonymous source said that “street movements” such as a recent pro-Rohani campaign rally which was held at Tehran’s Shahid Shiroudi stadium had added to the body’s woes about the candidate. Video footages from the rally, which was held on Saturday, showed thousands of supporters chanting “Political prisoners must be freed!”
The semi-official Mehr news agency also reported that chants by Rohani supporters on Saturday had prompted the Guardian Council to reconsider its earlier decision to allow him to stand in the upcoming presidential elections. It stated, however, that the most important reason for the Council’s unexpected meeting was the information Rohani had disclosed about Iran’s nuclear negotiations during the televised presidential debates.
The agency said that Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei would hold a press conference before Monday noon in order to inform the public of the electoral body’s verdict.
Up until 2005, Rohani was the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005.
The hardline Guardian Council shocked the country in mid-May by announcing that it had barred Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pillar of the revolution and currently the chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, from standing in the June vote.
Pro-opposition chants have been a regular feature at the campaign rallies of Hassan Rohani and fellow moderate candidate Mohammad Reza Aref. Often, the chants call for the release of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leaders of the opposition Green Movement who have been under house arrest since February 2011.
Sources also told the Green Voice of Freedom that on Sunday the campaign headquarters of Rohani and Aref were raided by plain-clothed security forces in the city of Shiraz. In addition, a number of campaign staff were summoned to the Intelligence Ministry for questioning.
Despite initially throwing their full support behind former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the country’s reformist parties have shown reluctance to endorse any presidential candidate after Rafsanjani was disqualified from the elections.
The Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation, one of Iran’s largest reformist groups, has said that the upcoming elections lack legitimacy and that the organisation will not support any of the eight remaining contenders in the race.
Similar views were voiced by Ardeshir Amir-Arjomand, an exiled advisor to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, in his letter to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran.
* UPDATE: Fars news has now removed the story from its site. Here’s an archived screenshot of the story:
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