Former Iranian presidential candidate Mohammad Gharazi says Iran's powerful conservative dominated Guardian Council is not accountable for its performance.

Gharazi argued that the Guardian Council, a body tasked with vetting presidential and parliamentary candidates and ensuring that all legislations are consistent with the religious law (Shari'ah) and the country's Constitutional Law is so powerful that politicians have lost the courage to question its behavior.

Gharazi's comment as part of an interview with Didban Iran website comes a few days after Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reinstated Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, 96, and two other clerics for another six years.

Although the Guardian Council's very existence has always contradicted the Iranian establishment's claim about being a democratic system, its decision to disqualify nearly all of pro-reform candidates since 2019 has made it subject to many criticisms from within the system.

The Guardian Council, which was established in 1980, has 12 members, including 6 clerics chosen by Khamenei, and 6 lawyers chosen by the Judiciary Chief and endorsed by the parliament. The 6 clerics do not need the blessing of the parliament. In fact, as the Judiciary chief is also directly appointed by Khamenei, all 12 members of the council are hardliners trusted by the Supreme Leader. The members' term of office is 6 years and every 3 years, half of them may change or be reinstated.

Ahmad Jannati has been the secretary of the Guardian Council since its establishment in 1980. Based on the new order by Khamenei, he can carry on doing his job until he turns 102 in 2028.

Jannati being presented with a large photo of himself with Khamenei in 2019

Gharazi said about Jannati's reinstatement: "I hope he lives for 120 years. God knows how long one lives. Who am I to say anything about this?" There are many jokes about Jannati's long life, including one that says he was the witness in Adam and Eve's marriage.

Gharazi, who was Iran's Post, Telephone and Telegraph Minister in the 1980s, said in a damning comment that "Neither the Guardian Council, nor the other councils in the Iranian government have ever done any service to the revolution," adding that the Guardian Council has given big jobs to individuals who have not been able to help the people in any way.

Gharazi said: "When I wanted to become a candidate in the 2017 presidential election, somebody from the Guardian Council told me that I cannot be a candidate as I was over 75 years old at that time. I told him how come a 75-year-old person can be a member of the parliament but cannot run for President?"

The same question was raised in another way following Jannati's reinstatement. Iranian cleric Rashid Davoodi, a graduate of the Qom Seminary who holds a Ph.D. in political science according to his Twitter bio, wrote In a 16 July tweet referring to Jannati’s son, "In 2018 when Ali Jannati was less than 70 years old he was dismissed from his post as an adviser to the Office of the President based on a law that prohibits employing retirement age people. In 2022, his father Ahmad Jannati, 96, was reinstated as a member and the secretary of the Guardian Council for another six years!"

The Guardian Council disqualified all the reformist candidates and even conservative candidates who could be real contestants in the 2020 Majles election, an act that paved the way for sending 290 "revolutionary" hardliners to the parliament. Critics have also lashed out at council for barring reformist candidates from the 2021 presidential elections.

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