PHOTO: Tehran Friday Prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami


The hardline Tehran Friday Prayer leader, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, has accepted the results of last week’s Iran election in which centrists and reformists gained significantly.

Khatami, a prominent critic of the reformists who has accused them of “sedition”, said yesterday, “Some candidates came onto the scene with plots, but the dear people of Iran elected other candidates. We must therefore congratulate these vote-bringing candidates.”

In a mirror of the situation after the disputed 2009 Presidential election — when millions of Iranians marched against the verdict that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “won” — Khatami advised conservatives and hardliners to refrain from a challenge to the regime’s authority:

Avoiding the weakening of the [political] system does not mean failing to use one’s right to protest. If I saw an [electoral] violation, it would be my legal right to complain.

But I do not have the right to bring the Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry under question because they are legal and electoral institutions.

Earlier this week the Guardian Council’s spokesman criticized a cumbersome process in which the Council decided on the disqualifications of thousands of candidates before the ballot, saying that this required a year rather than weeks. Some conservatives questioned the outcome, and rumors circulated that the leader of the conservative bloc, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, would challenge his failure to win a seat in Tehran.

Khatami maintained that the triumph of the Islamic Republic in the election was paramount: “Outsiders must understand that the general strategy of the Islamic system will not change with a change in people.”

Despite the mass disqualifications by the Guardian Council, a centrist-reformist List of Hope won a significant minority of the 290 Majlis seats — including all 30 in Tehran — narrowly behind the conservatives who have dominated Parliament for more than a decade. The balance of power is held by independents and the outcome of almost 70 run-off elections in April.

Centrists and reformists also won an unexpectedly large share of the positions in the Assembly of Experts, which chooses the Supreme Leader, with victory in 15 of 16 seats in Tehran.

Reformists: “No One Can Eliminate A Faction With Slander”

Hossein Marashi, a senior reformist official, said on Friday:

These elections demonstrated that no one can eliminate a faction — a faction that has roots in the [1979 Islamic] Revolution, the political order, and the people. It cannot be eliminated with slogans or slander.

Marashi hailed a video message from former reformist President Mohammad Khatami — who is banned from appearing in the Iranian media — for encouraging Iranians to vote for the centrist-reformist bloc.

The reformist official defended the requests of another former President, Hashemi Rafsanjani, for the release of opposition leaders from strict house arrests.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, candidates in the disputed 2009 Presidential election, and Mousavi’s wife, academic and activist Zahra Rahnavard, have been detained since February 2011.