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Iran's Parliament Speaker Defends Himself In Advance Of Elections

Source: Radio Zamaneh

In another display of infighting in the Islamic Republic's political arena, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani has rejected recent statements accusing him of having vested interests in Qom that would disqualify him from running for a seat in the next Parliament.

Ali Larijani

The Mehr News Agency reports that the Qom representative attended a Q&A session with Qom clergy and seminarians on Thursday. He was questioned on recently distributed flyers alleging that Larijani owns large estates in Qom and is involved in a series of questionable development and business projects.

Larijani stressed that he owns no property in Qom save his father's residence. He assured his audience that he is running in the coming elections at the recommendation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

A few days ago, ILNA quoted Iranian politician Hossein Kanani Moghaddam about the information being disseminated about Larijani in Qom, indicating that it might affect Larijani's eligibility to run in the March Parliamentary elections.

Ali Larijani once again had to deny that he had congratulated Mir Hossein Mousavi after the 2009 presidential elections. A report on Rejanews website had indicated that before the official announcement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory, Larijani has spoken on the phone to Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's opponent in the race, and had congratulated him on becoming the next president.

The report has been cited by the opposition as one of the indications that Ahmadinejad's victory was indeed fraudulent.

The Speaker of the Parliament has adamantly denied the allegations and maintained that they are "against religion and against our best interests."

He insisted that he has had a firm stance against the so-called "sedition."

Sedition is how the Islamic Republic establishment describes the mass protests that were triggered by allegations of vote fraud in Ahmadinejad's 2009 presidential victory.

While the protests were violently put down by the authorities, the stance that any politician takes toward the events has become a measuring rod for his fidelity to the regime.

More moderate figures in the establishment have been politically isolated over the past two years, like Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, due to his sympathies for the challengers of Ahmadinejad's victory.

Larijani has been a strong critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration and, as the head of Parliament, has challenged many of his policies.

Ahmadinejad and his allies have been working hard to win more influence in Parliament in the coming elections. Some analysts see the moves against Larijani and other government critics in Parliament, such as Ali Motahari, as part of the orchestrations of Ahmadinejad supporters.

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