Former Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, building his campaign for increased influence within the regime, has found a culprit for Iran’s economic problems — former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rafsanjani was in the political wilderness after he defended the right of Iranians to protest the disputed 2009 Presidential election. However, he has rebuilt his position as his protégé, Hassan Rouhani, claimed the Presidency in 2013.
Next month, Rafsanjani is expected to stand for leader of the Assembly of Experts, a position he lost in 2011. Hardliners — some of them close to Ahmadinejad — are trying to block him. They have even claimed that he has been involved in the “sedition” threatening the Islamic Republic since 2009, but are struggling to find a candidate to check the former President’s ambitions.
On Wednesday, Rafsanjani’s website posted portions of his October 2014 address to the Assembly that had been withheld from public view:
Hashemi [Rafsanjani] pointed at “an ocean of destruction, corruption, and theft” during the tenure of the previous government…..
He said: “Right here, I told the gentlemen, why do you approve of all the work of this government? How are you going to answer people and God tomorrow?
Then, I told my deputy at the [Assembly of] Experts…you are saying this or that person led [Ahmadinejad’s] deviation. But [Ahmadinejad] is deviation personified. If you were wrong, honestly tell the people you were wrong and don’t try to hide behind the back of someone else and claim the deviation was his work. People don’t believe such things.
Acknowledging the scale of Iran’s economic difficulties, Rafsanjani claimed that the Rouhani Government is “facing an ocean of destruction with an empty treasury and the full cannons of an extremist minority, which possessed all the opportunities in the elections but lost”.
Meanwhile, the former President’s camp maintained the official line that the former President has yet to decide if he will stand for chair of the Assembly of Experts. Rafsanjani’s brother Mohammad Hashemi, the head of his office, said, “[He has] neither declared that he will participate in the elections for Assembly of Experts, nor does he deny it.”
The 86-member Assembly of Experts is responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader and, nominally, can replace him. Rafsanjani said earlier that he would like a council to replace the Supreme Leader after the death of Ayatollah Khamenei.
Rafsanjani is also head of the Expediency Council, which rules on disputes between the branches of government.
(h/t Iran Press Review for translation)