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Velayati Quits 3-Member Committee

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TEHRAN, July 5 (ICANA) – Former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati resigned from membership at a three-member committee appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to broker unity among the Principalists for the parliamentary election of May 2012.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011 11:21:15 AM
Velayati Quits 3-Member Committee

As well as Velayati, the committee includes former Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Hadad Adel, and former Secretary General of the Islamic Coalition Party (Mo'talefeh) Habibollah Asgar Owladi.

According to Khabar Online, Velayati, an adviser of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has remained silent about the activities of the three-member committee and did not take a position on the relevant issue. In the meantime, Asgar Owladi and Hadad Adel have spoken more on the issue to the media announcing several times that the committee will follow its proceedings.

As a lawmaker says, Velayati was not the representative of any Principalist political faction in the three-member committee appointed by Ahmadinejad, but is generally a trusted and respected figure approved by all the Principalists and no one disagreed his membership in the committee, particularly as Jame'atein (Combatant Clergy Association and the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom) have approved the members of the committee and were to add four of their members to it.

This way, it was supposed to find a new form, not to be regarded as a committee selected and outlined by the president but supposed to act as a decision-making forum for the Principalists during the run-up to the 9th Majlis (Parliament) election.

It should also be noted that the 3+4 make-up of the committee is supposed to be attended by the representatives from three Principalist factions (the government supporters, Followers Front [Jebhey-e Pairowan], Self-sacrificers Association [Majmou'eyeh Isargaran], and the Society of Wayfarers of the Islamic Revolution's Path). The representatives of Messrs. Ali Larijani, Parliament Speaker and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Tehran's Mayor are to join the team and turn it to a 3+4+6+2 committee.

Formerly the Principalists had suggested that although the three-member committee established by Ahmadinejad to "redefine Principalism" and gradually after seven months was given an electoral function, it is no longer attributed to Ahmadinejad himself.

The resignation of the Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi over a dispute with Ahmadinejad ignited a dispute at the level of country's top officials. Moslehi's resignation was immediately approved by Ahmadinejad, but Ayatollah Khamenei who has the final say in all matters of the Islamic Republic reinstated Moslehi and backed him to follow his work. The row caused the three-member committee to go into a coma.

At the same time, some political figures and lawmakers regarded the activities of the three-member committee as originated from the influence of the "deviant current" led by the controversial Ahmadinejad's top adviser and right-hand man Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Mashaei has been accused of efforts to undermine the central role of jurisprudents (Foqaha) in the political scene of the Islamic Republic of Iran through insisting on the nationalist strain of Iranian culture and history.

A Principalist figure, Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moqaddam, the representative of Tehran in the Majlis and the member of Combatant Clergy Association had earlier told Khabar Online: "The three-member committee was formed based on the view of the deviant current who believed the clergy should not be involved in the Majlis election."

"The president has established the three-member team to broker a unity between the Principalists for the next round of Majlis voting. Moreover, the other unofficial measures are being taken by those in the government who are not unknown and use dubious financial sources to achieve their goal," he stated.

Mesbahi Moqaddam who heads a special Majlis committee tasked with considering the economic development plan further said: "In the meantime without informing the three-member committee, the members of the deviant current took independent measures in the cities and towns to conquer the Majlis, as later it was discovered that they were to introduce nominees to win 150 seats of the Majlis."

"So do members of the committee realized that they are being used as a cover up and their actions are not noticed by the President, let alone being rated by him. For this reason the activities of the three-member committee was reduced and even came to a halt," he said.

"Based on the Islamic republic law, neither the President nor the governmental organizations are permitted to meddle in such elections or use their financial sources and facilities for such purpose. Perhaps one could suggest that the Principalists' approach to the issue is also open to dispute," the lawmaker added."

"Of course the President had personally admitted that we have no right to interfere in parliamentary election, but who is not aware that he has initiated a strategy to do so. Although his move is unofficial and secretive, the political elites are informed about such machination," Mesbahi Moqaddam concluded.

A member of the Principalist fraction of the Parliament Avaz Heidarpour also said that the establishment of the three-member committee was a mistake made by the head of the government: "The establishment of three-member committee was a plot of the deviant current to detach clerics from the electoral process followed by the Principalist. A current within the framework of the government is not authorized to determine the make-up of the Parliament."

He noted: "Basically what's the Majlis election got to do with the government to determine who should take the parliamentary seat and who should not. Are the criteria for being a lawmaker set by the president?"

However later the three selected figures appointed by Ahmadinejad for the committee (Velayati, Hadad Adel and Asgar Owladi) made efforts to separate the nature of their activities from those of the deviant current. In this vein, they asked Jame'atein whether the two groups are still approve their activities are not. To change the discourse, Jame'atein request that the three-member committee to give its proposal and added new members to the team which led to the formation of the seven-member committee instead of three," the lawmaker added.

Hasan Ghafouri Fard who is a member of the Parliament's presiding board also told Khabar Online: "Definitely the three-member committee is not "affiliated to" the President. The members of the committee have been active on the scene of politics for many years and currently are acting independently. On the other hand, the nature of the team has changed since four members of Jame'atein have joined them. It seems that due to such initiative, the committee is no longer what Mr. Ahmadinejad first intended."

Stressing that the members of the committee are not the representatives of the president, he added: "Our friends in the committee asserted and will underline further that they operate independently and will carry on the same proceedings, this time centered on the ideas of Combatant Clergy Association and the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom in a bid to introduce prominent figures of the Principalist's list for the election."

The other lawmaker, Esmaeil Kowsari, a member of the Islamic Revolution fraction in the Majlis who is the representative of Tehran commented on the issue as well: "The three-member committee of the Principalists was first founded by Mr. Ahmadinejad, but it's no longer connected with him."

He noted that none of the three members of the committee are governmental officials and rejected the idea that the government meddles in the parliamentary election through the committee: "Although Messrs. Velayati, Hadad Adel and Asgar Owladi do not represent any Principalist faction, they are trustees of the Principalists. When the representatives of the Principalist factions join them, the path will be facilitated for fostering unity in the run-up to the Majlis election."

As Kowsari says Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, the chairman of the Assembly of Experts and Secretary General of Combatant Clergy Association, and Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi Secretary General of the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom are two prominent figures who will be added to the decision-making board of the committee.

However the spokesman of Combatant Clergy Association Hojat ol-Eslam Ahmad Salek denied the issue and postponed giving new information on the matter to the future. He said: "The presence of Mr. Ahmadinejad and his supporters in the Majlis election does not suggest that the government interferes in the parliamentary election."

Other Principalist political figures also underscore that three-member committee is not led by the head of the government and basically the government is not permitted to meddle in the Majlis election.

Reza Akrami, a member of Combatant Clergy Association who sits for Tehran in the Parliament maintained that any interference by the administration to change the mechanism of holding upcoming Majlis election would be against the law.

"The government is simply tasked with holding the election, encouraging people to participate in the event and generally increase the level of political participation. Any measure adopted outside this framework will be a breach of law and against the national interests. The government's efforts to determine the future lawmakers or the makeup of the next Majlis will reduce the electoral passion.

 Hamid Reza Taraqi, a leading member of Islamic Coalition Party stated: "After four appointed figures of Jame'atein united with the three-member committee and set the issue of the Majlis election on the agenda, nor the president made a contact with the committee neither the committee met the president. So there is no suspicion that the committee has been or is governmental."

"The seven-member committee will follow the activities of the three-member committee as now its mission from brokering unity among the Principalists has elevated to the issue of the Majlis election," he said.

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