By Hossein Mohammadi, Rooz Online
While former president Mohammad Khatami has not yet officially announced his decision about running in the June presidential race in Iran, ayatollah Khamenei's representative at the Kayhan group of newspapers, Hossein Shariatmadari, called the reformist president a "traitor" and "corrupt," and predicted that the Guardians Council would reject his qualifications to run in the race. But these words were objected to by none other than a member of the Guardians Council who said, "speculation" about the disqualification of presidential candidates "had no legal basis and would not impact the Council."
Hossein Shariatmadari is ayatollah Khamenei's representative at the Kayhan group of newspapers
Shariatmadari wrote in an editorial in Kayhan, "In which country do they allow the fifth column of the enemy to breathe?" He continued his criticism by saying that the agents of sedition - a term Iranian rulers use for the Green Movement and protests that followed the 2009 official election results did not offer even symbolic gesture of being against the United States and did not offer a simple apology for their actions.
He continued that the leaders of the Green Movement not only lacked the credentials to run in the elections, but should in fact be punished. Shariatmadari is directly appointed by ayatollah Khamenei to run the newspaper group and is a staunch supporter of the ayatollah.
This is not the first time Kayhan or Shariatmadari attack Khatami and the reformists in the harshest terms. Specifically, he and his associates accuse Khatami of meeting and following "instructions" from George Soros, a Hungarian born American who supports progressive-liberal causes around the world.
Khatami on the other hand recently questioned the wisdom of running for presidency under the current conditions when he said how he could run when he was under threat from various sources.
Shariatmadari has predicted that if Khatami decides to run he will be disqualified by the Guardians Council. It is this prediction that raised the eye brows of one Guardians member, Mohsen Ismaili, a jurist on the body who said, "Nobody can pass a judgment on behalf of the Council. The speculations have no legal basis and will not impact the Council. Such remarks may also not be right for the political environment of the country. No discussions have been held over any candidate and the review of the qualifications will take place after the candidates have submitted their applications."
But while Khatami has not announced a decision about running, many reform groups have called on him to run and in fact such calls seem to be growing. Some reformist political prisoners too have supported the idea of Khatami's candidacy and among them is former deputy minister of the interior Mostafa Tajzadeh who remains in Evin prison. Other political prisoners from the reform camp too have publicly made similar calls. But calls by reformers have not remained confined to Khatami and some leading reformists have said that even if Khatami does not get in the race, they would support Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ali Shakurirad, for example, a member of the reformist and banned Participation Front has told ISNA student news agency that all Khatami has to do is announce his candidacy. But if that does not take place, he declared that Rafsanjani would be the next best candidate with sufficient public support. Shakurirad's interview displayed the problems reformists have as he said if both of these veteran political figures decided not to run, there would be nobody else from the reformist camp who would stand a change in effectively winning the support of the public.
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