Iran Election Guide

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Iran Today: A Week In The Presidential Election

Is Fars News Endorsing Saeed Jalili?

Joanna Paraszczuk and Scott Lucas write:

In the week since registration for Presidential candidates closed and the Guardian Council began vetting the almost 700 Iranians who submitted their names, Iran's media has been dominated by two contenders: former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

However, with the Supreme Leader's 2+1 Coalition yet to declare any "unity" candidate, the question now is who will be able to mobilize significant support within the regime to counter Rafsanjani.

So far, only Jalili has emerged as a front runner.

Just as significant is the apparent confusion in the principlist and conservative camp. Although talk of a "unity" candidate is ongoing, no figure apart from Jalili has shown the organization and initiative to offer an alternative to Rafsanjani.

The Supreme Leader's top advisor Ali Akbar Velayati has yet to make a visible impact, as has MP and Khamenei relative Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel. When the Guardian Council announces the final list of candidates on Tuesday, the two men and the Supreme Leader's camp will face an immediate decision: either one of them will have to step down in favor of the other, or both will have to withdraw to support the third member of the 2+1 Coalition, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, but as these men continue the struggle over the next 72 hours, Jalili will be expanding his media effort and he is gathering key endorsements to extend that impact even farther.

Fars News --- close to the Revolutionary Guards --- has already made Jalili their de facto candidate through headline coverage, so the choice is nearing for the 2+1 Coalition to either ask Jalili to become their "unity" candidate, or rally behind a single person strong enough to oppose him.

Meanwhile, the Ahmadinejad camp has also failed to have an impact so far, through its candidate Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

Presidential Election Watch: Rafsanjani, Motahari Respond to Jannati's Friday Prayer Comments

Both Conservative MP Ali Motahari and Presidential candidate and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani have responded to remarks by temporary Tehran Friday Prayer leader Ayatollah Jannati yesterday.

In yesterday's Friday prayers, Jannati dubbed "laughable jokes" pledges by presidential candidates to repair Iran's relationship with the US and resolve the economic hardship caused by Western sanctions.

Motahari said that in the 2009 election the people were "deceived" and that the Guardian Council must approve Rafsanjani as a Presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, in a post on his website Saturday, Rafsanjani said that people were "misusing religion", and that the Friday Prayer leader was an official post appointed by the government, as a representative and spokesman of the system.

As such, Rafsanjani said, that role should be trustworthy, and if the Friday Prayer leader began using terms like "justice" he should be removed. People would not attend Friday Prayers if the prayers were devoid of any real substance, he added.

Presidential Election Watch --- Cyber Edition: Website Close to Rouhani, Rafsanjani Filtered

Aftab, a news website close to Presidential candidates Hassan Rouhani and Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been filtered since Friday.

Rouhani tweeted about the filtering on Saturday, noting that the news site had also been filtered on the day of the 2009 election, and for several days afterward.

Presidential Election Watch: Rahim-Mashaei Edition

Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, Presidential candidate and favorite of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said he does not think the Guardian Council will disqualify him from the election.

"We are very happy, and we are delighted that the more we talk about spring, it was not the election but the Imam Zaman [the Twelfth Imam, whom Shia Muslims believe will return from occultation as the Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam.]"

Mashaei added that without divine management, society cannot reach the levels it desires, and that it is the mission of the Iranian nation to set this in motion.

"We have a duty," Mashaei explained, "in continuing the line of the Divine Messengers, the Prophet and the Pure Imams, and the management ordained by God, to provide platforms and pave the way for the coming of the Mahdi."

Presidential Election Watch: Lankarani Says He Won't Step Down In Favor Of Jalili

Presidential candidate and former Minister of Health Kamran Baqeri Lankarani has said he will not step down in favor of any other candidate, including Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili.

Lankarani said that the Perseverance Front, the hardline group led by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, had selected him as its front-runner candidate.

Speculation that the Perseverance Front --- which initially selected Lankarani as its candidate --- would ask the former Health Minister to pull out began after it became apparent that former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was going to join the Presidential race, and the Front began to push Jalili as the stronger candidate.

Presidential Election Watch: Qalibaf Edition

Qalibaf Campaign Responds To BBC Persian Audio Recordings

Presidential candidate and Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf has responded --- to an audio recording published online by BBC Persian, which allegedly features Qalibaf boasting about his role in repressing protests in 1999, 2003, and 2009.

Esmaili accused BBC Persian of beginning the "destruction of Iran's presidential candidates, starting with Qalibaf", and notes that "the track record of the British government meddling in Iranian internal issues is clear to our alert people."

Qalibaf's spokesman went on to say that Voice of America had started the plot to "destroy" the Tehran mayor, and that "the new phase of this psychological and destructive operation has been continued by the BBC network."

Esmaili added that he was not surprised by this turn of events. "This was predictable," he concluded.

Qalibaf Promises To Solve All Iran's Problems In Two Years

Qalibaf has promised to solve all of Iran's problems within just two years, restoring "tranquility and stability" to the country, Fars News reported.

After pledging thus, Qalibaf went on to urge Iranians to vote for candidates based on their past performances rather than election plans and programs.

Presidential Election Watch: Jalili Edition

Mehr News reports that presidential candidate and nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili's student campaign center has been established in Imam Sadiq University in Tehran. Jalili is an alumni of the college.

Continuing his media campaign, Jalili published his first newsletter, in which he asks why people should vote for him. Jalili points to his extensive experience in politics and diplomacy.

Jalili's Twitter campaign has continued to focus on international affairs as well as domestic concerns. In a hint that principlist factions should unite behind a unity candidate, Jalili's campaign team tweeted:

Meanwhile, Fars News reports that students have created a "Justice Seekers" movement in support of Jalili.

Prominent Cleric Warns Ahmadinejad

Leading cleric Mehdi Taeb has warned President Ahmadinejad that if he refuses to support the Presidential elections after the disqualification of his right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, Parlaiment will vote him out of office.

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