By Bahram Rafiei, Rooz Online
While there has been some chatter questioning the need to have a presidential position in Iran's political system ever since ayatollah Khamenei's differences with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went public about five months ago, resulting in splits among Principlists (politicians who proclaim to follow the ideals of the 1979 revolution and its founder ayatollah Khomeini) in some political quarters of Iran, a Principlist Majlis representative formally raised this issue in parliament two days ago.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (L) with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Hamid-Reza Katouzian, the head of the parliament's energy committee said in this regard, "Recently a theory has been advanced by political theorists that since our country enjoys the benefits of the velayate faghih (rule by a supreme cleric) and the leader of the revolution, there is in fact no need for a president in the country."
Katouzian, who was a member of Majlis' fact-finding committee on the massacre of Tehran University dormitory a few years ago and had then disclosed the exertion of pressure by some circles to not publish the findings of the committee said that this idea of replacing the presidency would be discussed in the Majlis.
Katouzian said that this idea was "currently under debate by members of parliament who have a greater political clout." Speaking favorably on the subject, he added, "If representatives have greater supervisory authority on this arrangement then the idea will without doubt have a positive impact on the country."
In May this year, news leaked that some of ayatollah Khamenei's appointees and supporters, particularly military and security ones, had launched the idea that there was no need for the presidency in the country and that the supreme leader had the ability to manage the country through the forces under his command.
According to these reports, these individuals had argued that "In more than 20 years of leadership, the supreme leader had trusted all social groups, but one wanted to be president for life, the other wanted to create a dual administration, and if the seditionists had come to power they would have liked to change the supreme leader, and this last one to whom we ourselves voted and trusted also took the same path as the earlier ones."
It is ironic that the talk of re-instating the office of the prime minister comes at a time when the last prime minister of Iran, Mir-Hossein Mousavi has been under house arrest since the beginning of the year. It should be recalled that after the death of ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was amended to remove the office of the prime minister. In the original constitution of the Islamic Republic, the prime minister was the head of the cabinet and the chief executive while the president played merely a supervisory role over the prime-minister and cabinet ministers.
The issue that seems to be mostly paid attention by Majlis representatives today on this subject is article 135 of the original constitution which provided that the prime minister would remain in office so long as he enjoyed the confidence of the Majlis, that the prime minister submitted his resignation to the president. Article 134 of that charter outlined that it was the president who introduced a person for the position of prime minister to the Majlis for its vote. So if Katouzian's proposal is officially discussed in the Majlis, one of the key issues that will be discussed is whether the candidate for the prime minister will be proposed by the supreme leader to the Majlis, or initiated by the Majlis itself.
In a published article in Sobh Sadegh journal (belonging to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the head of IRGC's political bureau Yadollah Javani had argued that velayate faghih had the legitimacy and authority to intervene in all affairs of the state, indicating the kind of thinking that was going on in the IRGC and possibly other leadership circles.
On this note, it should be pointed out that as one of the leaders of Iran's Green movement Mir-Hossein Mousavi had warned in communique number 5 that the premature announcement of the results of the 2009 presidential election were an indication of not just the imposition of an unwanted government on people, but also of a "new way of political life." In a subsequent statement, Mousavi also said that the regime had one of two ways ahead of itself: to become democratic or to become more totalitarian. He also warned that opting for the second possibility would result in the total destruction of the regime.
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