Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says he has written to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to express his grievances about the recent disqualification of certain presidential hopefuls — including his Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri — by the country’s Constitutional Council in the run-up to the presidential election next month.
The disqualification of Jahangiri, as well as former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, has unnerved the Reformist camp in Iran, which had intended to field the former as its top candidate in the June 18 election.
The rejection, which was officially announced on Tuesday, has also renewed a debate between the Office of the Iranian Presidency and the Constitutional Council over the interpretation of the Iranian Constitution — where it defines the president’s area of responsibility.
Speaking at a meeting of his cabinet on Wednesday (May 26), President Rouhani said he had been left with no other choice than to write to the Leader because the Constitutional Council had in past instances rejected his interpretation of the Iranian Constitution’s Article 113.
According to Article 113 of the Iranian Constitution, Iran’s president is the second-highest official in the country, after the Leader, and the president is responsible “for implementing the Constitution [emphasis added] and acting as the head of the executive, except in matters directly concerned with the office of the Leadership.”
Rouhani takes that article to mean that the Iranian president must ensure the implementation of the Constitution by all branches of the Iranian government, not just the executive, which he heads, assuming a supervisory role for the presidency. But, in response to a constitutional inquiry in 2012, the Constitutional Council had already rejected such an interpretation of Article 113.
In his remarks on Wednesday, President Rouhani implied that he had found the recent disqualifications by the Council in violation of the Constitution and said he had wanted to send a notification to the Council but the vetting body had rejected him in the past based on its interpretation of Article 113.
“Therefore, unavoidably, I dispatched a letter to the Supreme Leader of the Revolution, and offered what I had in mind about whether he could help with this,” Rouhani said, apparently referring to the disqualifications.
Rouhani stressed that a passionate turnout was nevertheless key.
Reformist factions have said the disqualification of their main candidate would clear the battlefield for Ebrahim Raeisi, the chief of the Iranian Judiciary and the preferred candidate of the Principlist camp, to run unrivaled. Raeisi himself said on Tuesday that he had been quietly negotiating with unknown sides to secure the qualification of more candidates. He did not say which candidates, though.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Reform Front said in a statement on Wednesday that it had no candidate in the 2021 presidential election, even though one of the approved candidates, Mohsen Mehr-Alizadeh, is a Reformist figure who was vice president under former President Mohammad Khatami, and another, Abdol-Nasser Hemmati, the current governor of Iran’s Central Bank, is associated with President Rouhani and the so-called Moderate faction.