By Mahshid Boroomand, Rooz Online
Soon after Iran's supreme leader criticized those who have been urging for "free elections" in the country, veteran politician and revolutionary leader ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who has been calling for free elections for many years, spoke out last week and spoke about "logical" elections with "international standards" in the June 2013 presidential race.
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Rafsanjani is the current head of the powerful state expediency council that was originally created to arbitrate paralyzing differences between the executive and legislative branches of government and made these remarks during a meeting with "journalists and cyber media activists" while also hinting that he had had a recent meeting with supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei. News sites affiliated to the security apparatus of Iran have called some of these cyber media outlets to be part of "the seditions," a term the state uses to describe the leaders and participants of the 2009 protests against the officially announced results of the presidential election of that year.
During the meeting, in response to requests that he run in the June presidential election, Rafsanjani said, "if I were sure that nobody other than me could change the situation in the country, I would not hesitate for a moment and would enter the field. But till now I have not decided to do that. My job is to talk to the supreme leader with whom I hold brotherly and friendly meetings, as I have been doing in the past, and I think this is the best way of doing things."
In his talk at the gathering, Rafsanjani also made a reference to those hardliners who have been trying to break the long-standing relationship that he enjoys with Khamenei. "At a time when the enemy is trying to create discord some are also trying to disrupt my relations with the supreme leader. But I do not view it prudent to pursue any other path than cooperation with the leader," he said.
Referring to the upcoming presidential elections which is considered important because this is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second and final presidential term which has been characterized by initial support but ultimate controversy and deep differences with the supreme leader, Rafsanjani said what the country needed was "splendid elections" which our enemies could acknowledge were held with "global modern standards."
cartoon by Mardomak
In response to a question over the recent remarks by Habibollah Asqar Owladi, a senior member of the conservative Hezbe Motalefe Islami (Islamic Coalition party) and the secretary general of the Jebhe Peyrovane Khate Imam va Rahbari (Alliance of the Followers of Imam's and the Leader's Path) regarding the leaders of the Green Movement, he Rafsanjani said, "I agree with him. I have a positive view. Mr. Owladi has been active even before I and others like me began our work and has been in prison more than me and he is a devotee of the revolution." Owladi recently expressly said in public that Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the leaders of the Green Movement both of whom are currently under house arrest since early 2011, are not seditionists, a remark that is in sharp contrast with the public position of many appointees of ayatollah Khamenei , hardline principlists and state-sponsored media who call both men to be among the "leaders of the sedition" and who insist that these two must be condemned as a pre-condition for running in the presidential race.
Rafsanjani also spoke about the accusations that Mr. Ahmadinejad made against him during a televised debate between candidate Ahmadinejad and candidate Mousavi in 2009 and said, "I have on many occasions, including Friday prayer gatherings, expressed my views about the need for action regarding those rumors, but some seem to have decided to pretend to be sleeping and do not wish to listen to rational words. There is nothing more that can be done under these circumstances in this regard." It should be noted that while ayatollah Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have developed serious differences over a series of issues and their differences have gone public, the supreme leader at the same time has refrained for making statements that would result in the removal of the president arguing that pragmatism and conditions in the country required calmness and continuity over radical change in appointments and positions.
These latest remarks by Rafsanjani, none of which are in fact new, have been disliked by some news sites affiliated with the security agencies of the country. Some even equated the meeting with Rafsanjani's meetings with Mousavi and Karoubi in 1999 and labeled it "the 78 year ayatollah's meeting with the leaders of the sedition."
For example, Mashreq news site wrote, "This meeting appeared to be an organized invitation from the "78 year ayatollah to run in the presidential election, something that ayatollah Rafsanjani is not uninterested in. Despite his old age he does not categorically dismiss the idea of running for the presidency." This website also criticized what it called were the presence of individuals with security related convictions at the meeting, the applauses that were made whenever the names of the seditionists were mentioned and the denial of Rafsanjani's critics to take the podium to speak."
Mashreq also write of Rafasanjani's silence when the participants applauded Mousavi and Karoubi at the meeting and wrote, "Some of the participants carried green bracelets (an identifier of support for the Green Movement) and applauded when their names were read out. Hashemi Rafsanjani did not show any response to these expressions of positive enthusiasm."
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