Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei today once again approved the presidential election results.
“The 10th presidential election was an epic and ominous event,” Khamenei said on Sunday. “The wise and vigilant Iranian people showed they are still committed to the path of the architect of the Islamic Revolution the late Imam Khomeini,” Khamenei added [IRNA, 14 June 2009].
Khamenei’s approval came ahead of the Guardian Council’s 10-day deadline to certify the results, practically assuring that the Council would reject Mousavi’s appeal to annul the election.
The only legal course available to Mousavi and his supporters, if and when the Guardian Council rejects his appeal as expected, is the intervention of the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly, comprised of 86 leading Shia jurisprudence experts, has the constitutional power to select, supervise and dismiss the supreme leader.
The supervision and dismissal clauses have never been used by the Assembly, and it is considered very unlikely that the Assembly would now use its constitutional power to force the supreme leader to nullify the election results. What makes it intriguing, however, is the fact that Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected last year as the Assembly’s chairman and has strong support within the 86-person assembly, all clerics like himself. Rafsanjani has emerged as the most powerful opponent of Ahmadinejad and a strong supporter of Mousavi.
In his now famous open letter to Khamenei last week, he warned Khamenei on his responsibility to ensure a fair election. Some of us saw the reference as a veiled threat that the assembly can and might exercise its rights to “supervise” the leader and his decisions.
The Assembly of Experts exerting its power to shape the events in the next few weeks seems to be the only hope left for Mousavi supporters, an unlikely outcome, but possible considering the fast-paced events in the past 48 hours in Iran.