Khatami's long-time confidant Mohammad Ali Abtahi

Ex-Official: Rouhani’s Election Disqualification Politically Motivated

Saturday, 02/24/2024

A reformist politician has said the decision to bar former president Hassan Rouhani from running for re-election at the Assembly of Experts was politically motivated.

The decision to disqualify Rouhani was the result of a coordinated attempt, said Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a senior aide to former president Mohammad Khatami, in an interview with ILNA news website in Tehran on Saturday.

Abtahi hailed the former president as “a veteran administrator,” further adding that he could play a significant role at the Assembly of Experts at times of crisis.

Rouhani was the strongest actor “within the framework of succession issues,” Abtahi stated vaguely in reference to the constitutional role of the Assembly of Experts to choose a successor to Iran’s 84-year-old Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. His ambiguous statement failed to elucidate whether Rouhani could himself be considered as a successor to Khamenei or could exert his influence to elect the next leader.

The Guardian Council announced Rouhani’s disqualification on January 24th. Since then, the former president has appealed three times to the Guardian Council to demand the reasons behind this decision.

Earlier in November, Rouhani for the first time discussed possible arrangements to handle the situation after Khamenei's death.

Using the mildest language to evade Khamenei’s and his hardliner supporters' anger, he said, "May the Supreme Leader live long, but as the time passes, the day we would never want to come is more likely to arrive and the Assembly of Experts has to decide on the naming of the next Supreme Leader."

Many contend that the move to bar Rouhani was a deliberate attempt on the part of the hardliners to secure an easy and smooth transition of power to their preferred leadership candidate.

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