Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Qualifications for Public Office, More Stringent?

Majlis Drafts Law to “Protect Image of Regime”

Only 10 months are left for Iran’s next presidential elections and the country’s ‎parliamentarians have already launched their measures to vet out the candidates and ‎muscle their own favorites into the race. Some Majlis deputies this week declared that the ‎large number of candidates who have signed up for next year’s presidential elections, ‎which in the final count only leave just a few qualified individuals, results in large ‎expenses for the state and therefore they plan to modify the presidential elections law.‎

And while the spokesperson for the powerful Guardians Council which is constitutionally ‎tasked to supervise national elections and in the process vets out the usually large number ‎of candidates, ha said that the time window for reforming the presidential elections law ‎has already passed, Mohammadreza Mirtajeddin, an MP from the city of Tabriz in ‎northern Iran, who is also a member of the leadership group, flouted the idea that the ‎presidential elections law be revised.‎

According to semi-official Fars news agency, Mirtajedin pointed out to some of the ‎shortcomings of the law and said, “The current law unfortunately allows anybody who ‎can read and write to run for the office of the president, which results in that everybody ‎wants to run. The number of those who register for the presidential race shoots up ‎initially but during the vetting process most of the candidates are disqualified, costing ‎plenty of money to the state.” “The Majlis can pass legislature to put forth stricter ‎conditions and requirements for the applicants so that this deficiency of the presidential ‎law would be corrected. Other criteria that could be added are executive knowledge and ‎special education,” he added.‎

This is not the first or only proposal to amend the existing law. Other MPs had voiced ‎similar calls. Hamid Reza Babai, for example, who is another member of the Majlis ‎leadership group, had said that the law had to be changed, reminding his audience that, ‎‎“Thousands of people sign up as candidates during the elections, while only five or six ‎are finally announced to be qualified for the job. This has a negative impact on world ‎public opinion, which says that there is no freedom in Iran because a thousand candidates ‎were disqualified. This is not a good impression of Iran at the international level. We ‎must therefore move in the direction that only qualified individuals sign up for the race.”‎

A month earlier, Alireza Afshar, the political vice-minister at the ministry of the interior ‎which at the time did not yet have a minister and which is tasked with the job of ‎implementing the elections also said that the presidential elections law had to be revised. ‎Speaking to a IRNA news agency reporter, he said, “The committee to review the ‎presidential elections law has been formed and it has already held a number of sessions. ‎But since we believe that this is going to be a lengthy process, and not be complete before ‎the next presidential elections, we should put an urgency into reviewing the presidential ‎elections law.”‎

Merely a month after these remarks, the new minister of the interior Ali Kordan last ‎month stressed that there was no need to change the presidential elections law! He said ‎that the next year’s race should be held according to the existing law.‎

There are others too who are not too eager on changing the existing rules. The Guardians ‎Council is one of them. Abbasali Kadkhodai, the spokesperson of the council has said ‎that “the council was against a hasty review of the law.” He defended the position by ‎saying that only ten months were left for the elections, and that was not sufficient time to ‎review the law.‎

So it is not yet clear whether those MPs who advocate changing the law for the next ‎elections will intensify their drive and change the rules, or whether the next elections will ‎be held in the same framework as the previous ones.‎
By: Rasa Qazizadeh

No comments: