DAR SAHN – Fewer than 9 months before the presidential and Assembly of Experts elections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani and Chariman of the Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati engaged in a bit of verbal sparring at a recent conference in Tehran.

Over the course of the conference, Rouhani asked that the military and militias refrain from taking on an active role in the elections whether in favor or against the candidates. Jannati, on the other hand, asked the military to stand against those who were involved in the 2009 “crisis.”

According to Persian-language media, the discussions were part of the Conference of Military Commanders which took place on Saturday, May 30, 2015. The conference initiated a number of serious discussions regarding the upcoming elections in Iran. President Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the government is committed to organizing free and competitive elections. “Based on law, governors, commanders, and the ministry should not be influenced by any political party or movement in the organization of the election.” Rouhani stated.

Ahmad Jannati criticized the government’s position in regards of the upcoming election, quoting an official who had commented, “If we take the parliament we will have a voice, if not, we will lose everything.” Jannati considered the comment nasty and “interfering in government’s tasks.” Despite the emphasis Rouhani placed on neutrality, Jannati felt that the commenter he was alluding to, Vice President Es’hagh Jahangiri, was in fact taking sides in the political debate.

Rouhani responded to Jannati, stating, “The government should refrain from political competition but it does not mean that semi-governmental groups or other powerful movements should take over the election.” Rouhani added that as the president of Iran, he is committed to protecting the rule of law when it comes to elections.

JANNATI: Reject the “Trouble Makers” | ROUHANI: Follow the Law

During the Conference of Military Commanders in Tehran, Ahmad Jannati asked the commanders not to allow the participation of “trouble makers.” Conservative groups in Iran use the term “trouble makers” to refer to those who were involved in the massive 2009 post-election demonstrations. Jannati also referred to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameni’s statement that the demonstrations of 2009 mark a “red line” that has not yet been forgotten.

Rouhani, in response, reminded the military that the law requires that they act under the supervision of the government, not independently. “Do not pay attention to rumors and accusations, if there is something wrong, it should be investigated in a court of law. It is the only way to face the issues.”

Rouhani added, “Justice means opportunity for all. Therefore governmental facilities should be provided to all equally. All candidates and parties should have the same level of access.”

ROUHANI:  “A Healthy Atmosphere”

At the conference, Rouhani emphasized creating a “healthy atmosphere” for the upcoming elections to prevent any rumors of fraud. He stated that the election should be transparent and that the ballot box should be the measure. The president also recommended using security cameras during the vote counting for more transparency. “According to the Supreme Leader, voting is the right of the people, and we need to be responsible for that.”

Intelligence Minister Comments

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s Intelligence Minister, was among those who spoke at the conference. He discussed the creation of a ministry level council to vet eligibility for those who want to participate in upcoming elections. He stated it is forbidden to insult anyone and destroy their reputation.

Alavi himself was rejected as a candidate in the previous election and is quite aware of the reasons for the disapproval. “We cannot discredit people because of their political affiliations. A group with a particular political agenda is clearly trying to influence the election and replace me as the intelligence minister.”

Based on Iran’s law, authorities who are going to participate in the upcoming election need to resign from their post. Ali Pour-Motlagh, the head of the election section of Iran’s Interior Ministry stated that for four around the 18th of June authorities may announce their resignations.


Translated from the original Persian