Iran Election Guide

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Iran Live: Ex-President Rafsanjani's Camp Makes Its Election Move

Iran Feature: The Week in Review --- Threats and Arrests Before the Presidential Election
Thursday's Iran Live: Ahmadinejad "Presidential Election Will Be Political Epic"

1407 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Mohammad Hassan Asfari of Parliament's National Security Commission has said that a proposed festival in Azadi Stadium in Tehran is a gathering of Ahmadinejad which is an abuse of public funds and is illegal.

1253 GMT: Your Tehran Friday Prayer Update. In today’s sermon, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani warned Presidential candidates that loyalty to the Supreme Leader is a vital prerequisite for the position, stating that the Presidency is not a position of personal power but a “trusteeship of the divine”.

He also offered his sympathies for those affected by Wednesday’s earthquake in Bushehr Province that killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds more.

1203 GMT:MEK Watch. The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), which was designated a terrorist organisation by the United States until September 2012, opened an office in Washington yesterday.

The opening of the office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group dominated by the MEK, is likely to be viewed negatively by Tehran, which opposed the decision by the United States to delist the organisation and continues to describe it as a terrorist organisation.

1156 GMT: Election Watch . Farhang Jahanpour profiles Hassan Rohani, the ally of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has declared his candidacy for June's Presidential election:

So far, the long, lackluster list of the candidates who have officially declared their candidacy is made up largely of the so-called Principlist wing of the Iranian politics....

Under these circumstances, Rowhani’s candidacy is of great importance. Although [he is] a reformer and close to former Presidents Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Khatami, the Guardian Council would find it very difficult to disqualify him because he is a Shia mujtahid or senior cleric.

1106 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Following the media flurry about Syrian insurgency Jabhat al-Nusra's alleged relationship with Al Qaeda, Iran's hardline Mashregh News offers a different angle of bad reporting in an article asking about the links between the Sunni Islamist group and Israel.

Mashregh argues that the US and Israel have a vested interest in developing the threat of Jabhat al-Nusra as an Al Qaeda group to justify an invasion of Syria. The hardline news outlet argues that Israel also wants Jabhat al-Nusra to be strong, so as to draw international attention away from the Palestinian resistance.

0809 GMT: Morality Watch. The head of Iran's police, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam has announced the reimplementation of "moral security designs" in the run-up to June's Presidential election.

Ahmadi Moghaddam said the plan included the deployment of morality police alongside "a cultural and social [effort], so instead of hatred [towards us] the people will pay attention to us".

0701 GMT: Election Watch. Has Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Hassan Abu Torabifard --- one of the four Presidential candidates in the new principlist coalition --- made a bid for one of them to be tapped by Ayatollah Khamenei for the Presidency?

Abu Torabifard said, "An individual will be elected who is loyal to the system and [is also] the Supreme Leader's arm....We must demonstrate the system's power with maximum presence in presidential elections."

Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Abbas Kabi has put out a warning, probably aiming it at followers of President Ahmadinejad, "Candidates of deviant currents and seditionists will not be approved for qualification."

Kabi continued, "In the next elections, enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran's system are seeking another sedition, [but] the people's maximum voter participation can neutralize enemy threats and guarantee the country's security."

0621 GMT: Election Watch. Ali Saeedi, the Supreme Leader's representative to the Revolutionary Guards, has declared that whoever is next President must obey Ayatollah Khamenei's orders. He added, without contradiction, "To manage the country in present conditions we need an individual with a backbone."

Saeedi also commented on specific issues, declaring, "Uranium enrichment has currently reached 20% and the new President must not enter Parliament and introduces an atomic freeze."

On the economic front, Saeedi asserted, "One of the country's problems is inflation and the other is sanctions. The future president must stand against these two great economic issues with finesse and management [expertise] so pressure is not exerted on the people."

Saeedi closed with a warning of "sedition": since the enemy had not been able to defeat the Iranian nation economically and with sanctions, its "next scenario" would be political and involve the elections.

0615 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The US has imposed sanctions on a network of companies and leading Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani.

The Treasury blacklisted Zanjani, the companies, and Malaysia's First Islamic Investment Bank for moving billions of dollars on behalf of the Government and providing financial and other support to the National Iranian Oil Company.

Zanjani is a controversial figure inside Iran. In February, he became entangled in President Ahmadinejad's accusations of fraud and political manipulation against Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and his brothers.

0605 GMT: Nuclear Watch. Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator, has said that "at Almaty 2 [last week's second round of nuclear talks in Kazakhstan], Iran forced the 5+1 [Powers] into serious bargaining and negotiations".

Bagheri said that, at the end of the talks, the 5+1 Powers presented a revised proposal and that the Iranian side responded that they did not reject that offer but needed time to reflect on it. This, according to Bagheri, showed "clear logic", given that some of the proposals were disproportionate but Western powers insisted Iran accepted all of them.

According to Bagheri, chief nuclear negotiator Saeedi Jalili said that Iran had two options, either take the appropriate steps or take no steps at all.

Bagheri also claimed that the 5+1 negotiators had lacked authority. "They were not decision-makers," he explained, adding that the Western negotiators should assume this role instead of merely passing on messages to officials.

0535 GMT: Election Watch. On a Thursday full of developments over June's Presidential election, perhaps the most significant was the public move of the camp of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Hassan Rohani --- former head nuclear negotiator and member of the Expediency Council --- formally announced his candidacy. Rohani is considered a close ally of Rafsanjani and also is on good terms with those around the Supreme Leader.

So far, neither the Supreme Leader's camp nor the new principlist coalition of leading politicians --- including four candidates --- have offered a reaction.

However, Tabnak, close to Presidential candidate and former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaei, has chided Rohani, whom it says "has long had ambitions to run for President".

Noting that Rohani said he would "save the economy", restore ethics and form a truthful and honest Government, Tabnak jabs that nobody has interpreted what the Supreme Leader's concept of a desirable leadership might be.

Tabnak also points to the key moment in about three weeks when the Guardian Council has to rule on which candidates can stand. It claims the Council is having a tough time because some members want to disqualify reformist candidates and others want to disqualify Government -- i.e., Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's --- preferences, while the Government is pushing the Council to disqualify others.

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