Influential Sunni cleric Mowlavi Abdolhamid says with engineered elections, the regime has barred competent individuals from positions of power and weakened the country. 

Abdolhamid accused the regime of allowing only incompetent people to be elected to the parliament, presidency and as constitutional watchdogs whose job is to supervise the supreme leader and to elect his successor. “Worthy and competent individuals,” he said, cannot be chosen in the kind of elections that the regime holds. 

Abdolhamid who has gained huge popularity for his fiery Friday sermons since protests began in mid-September warned that methods employed by the regime, and the exclusion of capable individuals, has resulted in people’s dissatisfaction and fuelled recent protests. 

He went on to say that the Iranian people wish the same prosperity and development for their country that freely elected leaders bring elsewhere in the world. 

Over the years, the hardliner Khamenei-appointed Guardian Council has tightened its control over the election process. In the presidential elections of 2021, the council disqualified the long-time regime loyalist and moderate conservative, former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani to ensure hardliners seize the presidency. Already, in 2020, by disqualifying hundreds of candidates, the Guardian Council allowed hardliners to gain a strong majority in parliament. 

“We hear that some people are making plans for future elections. [These could be the type of] elections that people don’t want. The people want free elections. They want to elect people who are capable and strong executives with the power to make [their own] decisions,” he told his congregation in Zahedan this Friday. 

Sunni cleric Mowlavi Abdolhamid

“We have not been able to use capable people and competent executives. Weak lawmakers weaken the parliament, and such weak parliaments are unable to manage the country at times of crisis,” he said. “You are doing injustice to this country by entrusting the work to a weak government and president,” he added. 

Abdolhamid also called for a new constitution. “Stop [enforcing] the laws that have not worked until now. Why should we stick to something that was ratified forty-four years ago? He asked. 

The parliamentary elections of March 1, 2024, has great importance to the regime which has always relied on high turnout of the electorate as proof of its legitimacy. 

However, after last years’ several-month-long protests, the chances of anything other than elections with a very low turnout are quite slim as those who protested, and their supporters, and even many Islamic Republic loyalists, have long vowed never to run or vote in any election again. 

Apart from the 290 members of the Iranian parliament, voters must also choose 88 members of the Experts Assembly in the March elections.

Some pundits claim turnout in the 2024 elections may be as low as 15 percent. The turnout in the highly engineered elections in 2020 which resulted in a hardline majority in the parliament was the lowest ever in the history of the Islamic Republic.

In the capital Tehran just over 26 percent voted in 2020 but according to government figures, national turnout stood at over 42 percent. In the 1996 parliamentary elections 71 percent had voted. 

Hardline media such as the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) linked Tasnim claim that Larijani is going to run in the elections with his own slate which the former President Hassan Rouhani is going to support.

Rouhani has neither confirmed nor denied his intention to get involved in the upcoming elections but Larijani’s office in a statement Monday denied Tasnim’s report. The statement said there was no talk of any election activity, consultation with others, or an electoral list. 

Taking a jab at hardliners in power, the statement said those who are after excluding others should not worry about Larijani running in the elections and that it is not likely to create an atmosphere of “fake competition” with false news about rivals’ intention to run. 

IITV News (12) - DC
IITV News (12) - DC

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