PHOTO: Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani
Refusing to bow to pressure from Iran’s hardliners, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani stepped up the rhetorical battle on Friday, saying the disputed 2009 Presidential election is the source of problems in the Islamic Republic.
Rafsanjani is facing mounting charges that he is fostering “sedition”, following his call for increased supervision of the Supreme Leader and for a council to rule after the death of the current Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. The critics include head of judiciary Sadegh Larijani and the commander of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi.
The conflict has been fed by the approach of February elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body that chooses the Supreme Leader. Rafsanjani is hoping to regain the chair of the Assembly, which he led from 2007 to 2011.
On Thursday, the current head of the Assembly, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, implicitly accused Rafsanjani of “hidden goals” and warned, “We must be careful.”
The former President posted a message on his website and on Instagram on Friday. He said the 2009 election, “won” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid widespread claims of manipulation, is the “primary cause” of sedition. Rafsanjani said that the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, had often said that “the election is not the monopoly of any group such as political parties but is the property of the people.”
Driving home his point, Rafsanjani illustrated the article with a photograph of Ahmadinejad being congratulated by high-ranking officials in the regime.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading challenger in the 2009 Presidential campaign, has been under house arrest since February 2011. Another candidate, former Speaker of Parliament Mehdi Karroubi, and Mousavi’s wife, activist and artist Zahra Rahnavard are also detained.
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Detained Washington Post correspondent Jaason Rezaian has been permitted a Christmas meal with his wife and mother. The dinner was the first time in 2015 that Mary Rezaian has seen her son, who was seized in July 2014 along with his wife, fellow reporter Yeganeh Salehi, and two other journalists. After months without access to a lawyer or to the charges, Rezaian was finally indicted for espionage in spring 2015. Several court hearings have been held, and the Iranian judiciary has said he has been convicted, without providing any details of a sentence.