List of military candidates raises concern over Iran vote

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Tehran (AFP)

A series of military figures on the list of candidates for the Iranian presidency arouses unease over a possible militarization of the policies of the Islamic Republic.

Registration for the June 18 ballot takes place Tuesday through Saturday, after which the names will be handed over to the Conservative-dominated Guardian Council for verification.

The state-run IRNA news agency highlighted “the longest list (of potential candidates) in a presidential election with military training.”

The participation of candidates with military training “is not new,” said Ahmad Zeidabadi, a freelance journalist in Tehran.

However, none of them were members of the military when they applied, said Habib Torkashvand, a reporter with the Fars News Agency close to Iranian ultra-conservatives.

This time around, hopes include Saeed Mohammad, an adviser to the Guard Commander, Major General Hossein Salami, and former petroleum minister, Admiral Rostam Ghasemi, an economic affairs aide to the force chief. elite Al-Quds guards.

Two members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and his predecessor Ali Larijani – have both run for president in the past.

The same goes for Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council.

The three have also been presented as possible candidates for this year’s race, although they have yet to declare their intentions.

– “ No chance of militarization ” –

The estate also includes Ezzatollah Zarghami, a former member of the Guard, and General Hossein Dehqan, who was Minister of Defense in the first government of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani.

The moderate daily Jomhouri-e Eslami warned that the election of a “military figure to head the government” could have “negative consequences” for the country.

And Ali Motahari, a former reformist camp lawmaker who announced his intention to run, said the long struggles to end military rule in Turkey and Pakistan should serve as a warning.

But General Dehqan rejected any suggestion that “military figures would introduce martial law or restrict freedoms”.

“In Iran, there is no chance for the militarization of the state,” said Dehqan, currently adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

– No military “ interference ” –

The late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has repeatedly urged the military “not to interfere in politics”.

But under his successor Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has expanded its economic and political influence to such an extent that analysts view it as a state within a state.

The military’s influence on Iranian diplomacy has been at the center of a fury in recent weeks after an audio leak in which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif complained of having “sacrificed diplomacy for the military realm instead. than for service diplomacy in the field “.

Zarif said he regretted his comments were leaked.

Soon after, General Mohsen Rezai, a former commander of the elite Republican Guards and a former presidential hopeful, criticized Zarif in announcing his candidacy.

Revolutionary Guard leader Salami has since said that only “personal initiative” motivated a member to run for office, and said his organization failed to instruct members on how to vote.

Abbas-Ali Kadkhodai, spokesman for the electoral body of the Council of Guardians, told AFP that Iranian law does not prohibit members of the military from standing for election.

However, it prohibits any military “interference”, such as announcing a candidate or modifying the result of an election.



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