London, 19 October – The seventy-five-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled the Islamic Republic of Iran for almost twenty-five years. As The Guardian reports, his time in office will expire only on the day he dies. Recent news concerning his health has sparked debates over who will succeed his place in office.
But while Ali Khamenei is still able to lead, he is not holding back from his authority. He has recently issued a new directive which contains 18 paragraphs to the leaders of Iran’s clergy’s three branches and Rafsanjani, concerning elections. The most noteworthy part of this directive is paragraph number 16.
Iran’s Supreme Leader forbids all military, intelligence and security forces from having any dealings in “political and electoral divisions.” Paragraph 16 explains this in more detail. “Prohibition on the entry of the Armed Forces and three branches, including ministries and their subordinate agencies, intelligence agencies and security organizations, government institutions and companies, and public institutions in the elections’ political and factional divides and advocacy for the election candidates.”
Over the years, the involvement of military and security forces (such as Revolutionary Guards, Basij and Ministry of Intelligence and Security) in elections has been met with widespread criticism. But curiously, until now Khamenei had either been for allowing their involvement or remaining silent on the matter.
The other parts of the directive are equally important. Paragraph 4 addresses the financial problems that occur during elections, involving corruption. It puts forth a need to “determine the scope and type of expenses and elections’ licit and illicit sources, as well as transparency on the resources and expenses of the election candidates and political groups.”
Khamenei’s directive also addresses The Guardian Council. The performance of this entity has also been fiercely criticised for rejecting candidates in numerous elections. The directive demands and emphasises respect for the Iranian constitution and requests that the Guardian Council be accountable for “the reasons for the cancellation of (votes in) the elections and disqualification of candidates if they request it.” The Guardian Council must respond in writing to any candidates, concerning these matters.
Is Khamenei’s directive an act to introduce more lawful measures into the way that elections are carried out in Iran? Political experts believe that this directive is “an unprecedented move to harness the regime’s internal crisis and confront divisions within the system and the risk of uprisings during the mullahs’ sham elections in Iran.”
While this directive sets out to put more lawful measures in place before the upcoming 2017 presidential and local election, The Supreme Leader has had his hand in dominating the presidential elections. Iran’s most powerful figure advised against the return of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s previous President. “Someone, a man, came to me,” he said. “I told him not to take part in that certain issue, both for his own and the country’s good. I did not tell him not to participate. I said, ‘I do not find it advisable that you participate.’ ”
This may be enough to keep the stage clear for a serious candidate to compete with Iran’s current president Hassan Rouhani, who has been widely criticised for the Iranian regime’s many failings today.