Reaction to Rafsanjani Letter
10 Jun 2009 21:44
By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles
In reaction to the open letter that former Iranian president and powerful politician Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani wrote to Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, several reports emerging from Tehran say that the Supreme Leader has appointed former Interior Minister and former presidential candidate Mr. Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a conservative mid-rank cleric and a critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to monitor the voting process. Mr. Nouri heads the Supreme Leader's Office for Inspection, which has the authority to monitor and inspect all organs of the government.
In a press conference with the reporters today, Mr. Abbasali Khadkhodaaei, the spokesman for the Guardian Council, which vets the candidates and certifies the election results, was asked about the appointment. He denied knowing anything about it, and promised to check on it. An independent source who did not want to be identified confirmed the appointment to the author.
At the end of Mr. Rafsanjani's letter to the Supreme Leader, he warned him that the supporters of the President may misinterpret various statements made by Ayatollah Khamenei regarding the election in order to justify any irregularities in counting the votes. Mr. Rafsanjani had warned that, if that happens, the country may face a serious crisis because the people may not accept the outcome.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Nouri was strongly supported by Mr. Ahmadinejad when he ran against Mr. Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 election. The relation between the two men has, however, deteriorated very badly over the last few years, after Mr. Ahmadinejad and his allies accused many national figures, including Mr. Nouri, of corruption and nepotism. Mr. Nouri was one of the people Mr. Ahmadinejad named in his debate with his reformist rival, Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi. There have been persistent rumors that Mr. Nouri had talked to other potential candidates in the conservative camp, in order to sway them not to run against Mr. Mousavi in this election.
In another major development, four important ayatollahs issued fatwas against taking any part in any cheating or vote fraud in the election.