Amid Increasing Signs of Political Rehabilitation
Former Iranian President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told a gathering of university professors, administrators and students in Tehran on Monday that a “free and transparent election” could play a major role in ending the current political and economic crisis in the country. Rafsanjani made the comments during a week that saw the free fall of the country’s national currency, the rial, losing 20 percent of its value in just three days.
Rafsanjani has been playing an increasingly important role in the Iranian politics. During the recent NAM Summit in Tehran, he stood next to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, at the podium. The photo, shown above, probably was the clearest sign that the former president and the current chairman of the Expediency Council has been politically rehabilitated and could play a major role in the upcoming presidential elections, expected to be held in March 2013.
Rafsanjani’s comments yesterday on the need for a “free and transparent election” were deliberate reference to the disputed presidential election of 2009, where Ahmadinejad was reelected amid public outcry on the accuracy and transparency of the final vote count.
The massive street protests and the political crisis that ensued created an anti-government feeling among a significant segment of the population, especially the youths and the educated, that still lingers after three years. Rafsanjani’s call for a free and transparent election is an attempt to restore public confidence in a governing system that faces enormous challenges internally and externally.
Photo Credit: Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (second from right) standing next to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei during the opening ceremony of NAM Summit in Tehran. 30 August 2012. (ISNA/Hamid Forootan)