By Nima Farahabadi, Rooz Online
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) with Hashemi Rafsanjani at the Expediency Council meeting
Ahmadinejad's participation at a meeting of the State Expediency Council led by Hashemi Rafsanjani after a three year absence has been widely reported in Iran's media. He had stopped attending the Council's meetings in 2009 despite being an ex officio member of the body, following his publicly aired differences with Rafsanjani in the course of the-then presidential elections. On Saturday however he sat next to Rafsanjani, a completely unexpected public move.
This change took place just a few days after Gholam-Hossein Elham the advisor to the president, told reporters that the leader of the Islamic republic appointed a number of political personalities to the council to prevent them from being "unemployed." These remarks, which were published by Raja News and came after seyed Ali Khamenei delivered a message to the new members of the Council, brought about quick and harsh responses by key principlists and senior authorities in the regime.
In his remarks Elham said, "Membership of unemployed individuals in the Expediency Council was to prevent them from creating mischief for the regime."
In his remarks to the new members, Khamenei defended the Council and its chairman, Hashemi Rafsanjani who has been reported to have been out of favor by the leader, and also called on all of its members to actively participate in its sessions.
Remarking on Ahmadinejad's return to the Council, Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moghadam, a member of the Majlis economic committee and the conservative Combatant Clergy Association, told ISNA that he had done it on "advice from the leader" and "had listened to him." While expressing the "expectation and hope of all Council members" that Ahmadinejad would participate in the future meetings of the body, he pointed out that the president had not said anything about this.
Expediency Council meeting
Rafsanjani Thanks Ahmadinejad
According to Iranian news reports, Rafsanjani thanked Ahmadinejad for his participation in the Council and said, "I hope that the president will continue to be present at the Council." Rafsanjani also said that he hoped "new and former members of the Council would have a serious and effective participation" in the body, "On the insistence of the supreme and great leader of the Islamic revolution and because of expediency."
Earlier this year when Rafsanjani was asked why Ahmadinejad did not attend the meetings of the Council, he had replied that the latter had attended only two or three sessions in the last 6 or 7 years, adding, " ... in other meetings that the president attends he quickly makes decisions after brief a discussion, which is different here," implying the president may not have the patience for the drawn out deliberations. In an interview with De Press website, Rafsanjani had also said, "I have not heard Mr. Ahmadinejad say this, but Mr. (Habibollah) Asqar Owladi had had a meeting with him and the president had told him that his remarks were not listened to in the Council. He also said that the president normally did not participate in meetings where somebody else was the chair, because he was officially the second highest person in the country. In the same interview, Rafsanjani had said, "Perhaps it was because of time, he must have plenty of work and so does not see the need to come here. But not coming regularly cannot be good. In reality, he is depriving himself and the government of participation in the issues."
Prior to the Council meeting but after ayatollah Khamenei had called on its members to participate in its meetings, Alef website belonging to Ahmad Tavakoli, an influential conservative Majlis member from Tehran and former labor minister under Mir-Hossein Mousavi, had written that "Ahmadinejad had two choices: participate in the Council's meetings, or remain absent at the expense of disregarding the orders of the leader.
Raja News on the other hand wrote that it appeared that "despite the differences that the executive branch had with the State Expediency Council, the president must have concluded that his non-participation in body's meetings worked to the detriment of the administration and its policies for the public, rather than the expression of his protest."
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