Friday, October 15, 2004

Iran's hardline MPs try to block Rafsanjani on Age

IranMania News: "Iran's hardline MPs try to block Rafsanjani

Friday, October 15, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Oct 15 ( IranMania) - Several hardline Iranian deputies have proposed a law that would stop those over 70 years of age from standing in next year's presidential election -- a move that would block a comeback by powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, AFP reported.

According to the Shargh newspaper, deputies have already begun drawing up a text and could present it in 2005.

"The current law only states that Iranians over the age of 30 can be a candidate, but does not provide an upper age limit. We would like to correct that," conservative MP Reza Talai-Nik was quoted as saying.

"In the past 25 years, no person over 70 has held an executive post," he added.

Contacted by AFP, the MP said the text "has not yet been finalised", and added the age limit could be set somewhere between 70 and 75. He also revealed that "some politicians are opposed to such a law".

Conservatives who now control the parliament, or Majlis, used age as one of their campaign platforms in the general election, calling for the "older generation to make way for the new generation."

The Shargh report did not say if the text was specifically aimed at Rafsanjani -- who will celebrate his 71st birthday next year, is seen as a pragmatic conservative and who has been openly mulling standing in next June's polls.

Rafsanjani served two terms as president from 1989 to 1997, and is allowed to stand for a third because the law only bars presidents from serving more than two consecutive terms. The charismatic cleric currently heads Iran's top political arbitration body, the Expediency Council.

Iran's current president, Mohammad Khatami, is nearing the end of his second consecutive and therefore final term.

"I would rather someone else enter the presidential race, but if society as well as prominent pundits conclude that I can fulfill this task better, I will announce my readiness," Rafsanjani said last month.

"However, I would prefer that someone else comes up and I will announce my final decision at an opportune moment. We have still plenty of time, so let's see if those who are acceptable to the people as well as those who are predicted to take part will announce their readiness," Rafsanjani added.

Speculation is mounting over who will contest the presidential polls, scheduled for next June.

The embattled reformist movement had been trying to persuade former prime minister Mir Hossein Moussavi to be their candidate, but he has refused.

On the conservative side, potential candidates include former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, who is 59 and now an advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Other names cited include top national security official Hassan Rowhani, 56, and former state media chief Ali Larijani, 47."