Authorities in Iran have imposed a six-month ban on a newspaper linked to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s president, as tensions rise in the run-up to next week’s presidential election. The prohibition on Iran, a state-owned newspaper under the administration of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government, was imposed for “false reporting”, according to local news agencies, although they did not elaborate. The ban is the latest sign of Mr Ahmadinejad’s increasing marginalisation within Iran’s theocratic system.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denounced as unjust the disqualification of his top aide from next month’s presidential election and says he plans to appeal to Iran’s supreme ruler. Ahmadinejad spoke a day after the Guardian Council, which vets candidates, barred the out-going president’s confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, from the June 14 poll along with former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the nation’s most illustrious political figures. Tuesday’s decisions enraged the pair’s many supporters and threatened to deflate turnout. Mashaei was “unjustly treated,” the president told reporters, according to the conservative Fars News Agency. “I have presented … Mashaei as a righteous and religious person who could be useful for the country.”
Iran: After being banned from election, Iran’s Rafsanjani blasts ruling clerics, report says | Associated Press
Banned from upcoming elections, Iran’s former president has leveled harsh criticism at the Islamic Republic’s clerical rulers, saying they are doing a poor job running the country, an Iranian pro-reform website reported late on Wednesday. The remarks by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani come days after a constitutional watchdog disqualified him from running in the June 14 presidential election. The wording was particularly strong for Rafsanjani, considered a centrist who generally defers to the supremacy of the ruling clerics. He had previously lashed out at authorities after a crackdown on protests following the disputed 2009 elections. Because of his stance then, Rafsanjani’s 2013 candidacy had revitalized reformist hopes. Rafsanjani has not made any direct public statements since his Tuesday disqualification. The quote was not carried on his official website, and the report could not independently verified.
Iran’s electoral watchdog has barred moderate ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani from standing in a June 14 presidential election, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. Eight candidates won approval to stand — five conservatives close to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as two moderate conservatives and a reformist, according to AFP. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close but controversial aide to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was also omitted from the list, AFP reported. No explanation was given for the disqualifications. Earlier today, Iranian news websites boosted speculation Tuesday that election overseers have barred two prominent but divisive figures from next month’s presidential ballot, in a move that would eliminate a threat to the country’s hard-liners, AP said.
Iran’s election overseers removed potential wild-card candidates from the presidential race Tuesday, blocking a top aide of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a former president who revived hopes of reformers. Their exclusion from the June 14 presidential ballot gives establishment-friendly candidates a clear path to succeed Ahmadinejad, who has lost favor with the ruling clerics after years of power struggles. It also pushes moderate and opposition voices further to the margins as Iran’s leadership faces critical challenges such as international sanctions and talks with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran’s constitutional watchdog said on Sunday it would seek possible charges against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for allegedly violating rules by accompanying his chief adviser to the election registry office the previous day. The dispute appears to stem from an ongoing confrontation between Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics in Iran following years of power struggles. It could also herald potential difficulties for Ahmadinejad’s protege, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, to be cleared for the presidential election on 14 June to choose Ahmadinejad’s successor. The president himself is not running since Iran’s constitution bars him from seeking a third term in office.
Four years ago the re-election of Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which millions considered fraudulent and led to months of violent protest, marked the elimination of the country’s reformists at the hands of their hard-line rivals. Now a new and equally bitter struggle is in full cry—between two different types of hardliner, fighting over an Islamic Republic that has been sapped by international sanctions. Less than two months before the presidential poll, the contest resembles nothing so much as a game of chicken. In the middle of the road stand Mr Ahmadinejad, the outgoing president, with his presumed dauphin: the suave, ambitious Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. The two men are almost family; the president’s son is married to Mr Mashaei’s daughter. They also share apparently limitless reserves of self-confidence, disdain for the revolutionary old guard of crusty clerics, and a yen for millenarian Shiism (see article) that traditionalists see as almost heretical.
Election rhetoric in Iran has increased since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial statements earlier in the week, in which he threatened to reveal sensitive information about his political enemies and taunted them that they are “nobody” to confront him. Immediately after the statements, several figures in Iran responded. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of the armed forces, said that what the president did “was unacceptable, and it is disturbing public order.” He added that “we hope the president puts an end to this type of discourse.” Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also responded to the president’s statements. He wrote to the president, “There could be two reasons why you still haven’t revealed anything. Either you’re bluffing … or you’re worried they’ll reveal something about you. Could there be any other reason?”
The reform movement that took to the streets to protest alleged vote-rigging in Iran’s last presidential election has been crushed. The supreme leader has made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated this time. But that doesn’t mean the maneuvering to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election set for June 14 has been without intrigue. Ahmadinejad, who was reelected in the disputed 2009 balloting, is barred by law from seeking a third term and is publicly promoting a trusted aide to replace him. It is far from clear, however, whether the president’s preferred successor will even be allowed to run. For much of the outside world, the incumbent remains the defiant face of the Iranian theocracy. At home, however, the clerical establishment that backed him four years ago has tired of what hard-liners regard as his divisiveness and lack of deference to the religious leadership. The election comes at a difficult moment for the Islamic Republic, which is facing the prospect of increased international isolation.