By Mahnaz Malekuti, Rooz Online
While the Majlis internal affairs and councils committee had passed a draft bill that is said to have been requested by Majlis speaker Ali Larijani, in order to raise the necessary qualifications for candidacy for presidency, the Guardian Council's spokesperson announced that the proposed qualifications will not be approved by the Council.
The Majlis committee's draft bill expounds on the language of Article 115 of the Islamic Republic's Constitution, which establishes the necessary criteria for holding the office of presidency. According to the new bill, candidates must be between the ages of 45 and 75 and hold, at minimum, a bachelor's degree or a seminary equivalent.
Article 115 of the Islamic Republic Constitution states that presidential candidates must be "from among religious and political personalities." The new Majlis bill states, "Candidates are considered to be from among religious personalities if 25 current or former members of the Council of Experts approve their credentials." The bill adds, "Candidates are considered to be from among political personalities if 100 current or former members of the Majlis approve their credentials."
Nevertheless, the Guardian Council's spokesperson, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, who has close relations with the Council's chief Ahmad Jannati, said regarding the new bill, "The Guardian Council will not uphold setting minimum and maximum conditions for candidates in this manner, and the Council does not agree with reforms of this sort that impose legal barriers."
The Guardian Council spokesperson's denouncement of the new bill is announced while the bill has not yet been put to vote on the Majlis floor. According to the Islamic Republic's Constitution, the Guardian Council vets Majlis bills for conformity with law and religious edicts only after such bills have been passed into law by the Majlis.
According to Kadkhodaei, "The Guardian Council believes that it [the Council] is the sole institution in charge of vetting a candidate's qualifications, and therefore no other institution, including the Majlis or the interior ministry, cannot evaluate and confirm such qualifications."
Ali Larijani, the ninth Majlis speaker, who has visibly increased his political presence ahead of the upcoming presidential election season, had defended the proposed bill in a gathering with university students: "The law provides a maximum age for Majlis lawmakers of 75 years, and it is only logical that the same limit be imposed on the president, who has a busier schedule."
It is said that Larijani's fervor in favor of the bill was so strong that he personally attended the Majlis committee's meeting to defend the bill. Larijani is expected by many to run as a Principlist candidate in the upcoming presidential election. According to many political analysts, Larijani's latest move is aimed at blocking the candidacy of several high-profile competitors, most notably former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
If the bill is enacted into law, prominent figures such as Hashemi Rafsanjani and Seyyed Hassan Khomeini will not be allowed to run for presidency due to old and young age. Another prominent Principlist figure and a potential contender in the upcoming election is Saeed Jalili, whose candidacy is jeopardized by the new law as he lacks eight years of experience in the Majlis, cabinet or the armed forces, another requirement under the new bill.
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