By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iran's car saga continues.
Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari has criticized recent comments by hard-line cleric Ahmad Jannati suggesting what kind of car Iran's next president should -- or shouldn't -- drive. Motahari described the remarks by Jannati, who chairs the powerful Guardians Council that's charged with vetting candidate applications -- as illogical, adding that the intent was "demagoguery."
Smarter to walk? The head of the powerful Guardians Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati (pictured), launched a broadside on ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's candidacy by suggesting a Mercedes is unpresidential.
"[Jannati] says people should not vote for those who ride around in a Mercedes, while some officials ride a Mercedes because of the assessment of their security team," Motahari said.
Without naming former President and applicant for the June presidential race Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Jannati told worshipers in a Friday sermon that the next president should lead a simple life and not drive around in a Mercedes.
Rafsanjani's blue Mercedes came under hard-liner scrutiny after he arrived in it to register for the June 14 presidential vote. Websites contrasted it with a subcompact Kia Pride that another presidential hopeful, top nuclear negotiator Said Jalili, rode in to the same registration office.
Motahari claimed the Mercedes cars that Iranian officials use are often 20 or 30 years old and thus worth about as much as a Pride.
"I don't think Rafsanjani's Mercedes is more expensive than Jannati's Peugeot," Motahari, who had reportedly campaigned for Rafsanjani to run, said.
In response to a question about whether Jannati's comments mean that the Guardians Council is taking steps to disqualify Rafsanjani and prevent him from running, Motahari seemed to suggest that a Friday Prayers sermon was an unsuitable venue for the chairman to be hinting at a council decision.
"If he is taking [such] steps, why does he announce it during Friday Prayers -- well, he should take those steps in their own place," Motahari said.
The Guardians Council has until May 21 to announce the shortlist of presidential candidates cleared to run in next month's presidential elections, culling from a long list of applicants.
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