Principlist calls on presidential candidates to avoid smear campaigns, disappointing remarks

April 21, 2021 - 22:49

TEHRAN – A principlist political activist has called on potential presidential candidates to avoid disappointing remarks or smear campaigns..

“Individuals and candidates should not defame each other like what happened in previous” elections, Hassan Ghafouri-Fard, a member of the Islamic Coalition Party, told IRNA on Tuesday.

“Instead of defaming each other they should elaborate on their plans. They should make people hopeful,” said Ghafouri-Fard.

He also said political parties should ask presidential candidates to present their plans for running the country.

The presidential and council elections will be held simultaneously on June 18.

The presidential candidates should be confirmed by the Guardian Council.

“Meritocracy”

Ghafouri-Fard who ran for president in 2001 elections, said a resolution of the problems in the country lies on “meritocracy”.

He also said people’s participation in the election is very important and rejected speculation that the oversight Guardian Council has a role in demotivating people by rejecting some candidates for parliament or president.

“In my view it is not fair to say that the Guardian Council causes a decrease in people’s participation in the elections,” the senior principlist activist remarked.

Citing an example, he said, “In the eleventh presidential elections there were 100 candidates for each (parliament) seat.”

Assadollah Badamchian announces presidential candidacy

In a press conference on Wednesday, Assadollah Badamchian, the secretary general of the Islamic Coalition Party, announces presidential candidacy.

However, he did not reject withdrawing candidacy is the unity council of the principlists agree on a single candidate.

The veteran politician also his party respects all candidates in order to avoid an “atmosphere of insult and defamation”

“There is no need that candidates to defame each other.”

“If I announce candidacy, I won’t withdraw in anybody’s favor”

Rostam Ghassemi, the oil minister in the Ahmadinejad administration, on Tuesday hinted that he may enter the presidential race. However, he said if he fields candidacy, he will not withdraw in favor any candidate.

“I have not announced candidacy yet, but if I announce candidacy, I will not withdraw in favor of anybody,” Ghassemi told a press conference on Tuesday.

He said he is fully aware of Iran’s situation and its capacities.

The former IRGC official said he has a “plan and a record”.

“The sacred defense era is my record. After the war I was active in reconstruction and I was one of the founders of the Khatam-al Anbiya (Construction) Headquarters.”

Ghassemi was the chief of the Khatam-al Anbiya (Construction) Headquarters before becoming oil minister.

He said he has a plan to overcome the “difficult living conditions” but his major plan is restructure of the country’s institutions.

“We need to change the rail. I have drafted plans in many areas which are based on global experience.”   

“Lifting sanctions is first priority and making them ineffective comes next”

He also said lifting sanctions on Iran is a “first priority” and making sanctions ineffective comes next.

Iran and the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal – JCPOA – started talks in Vienna on April 9 to possibly revitalize the agreement now that the Biden administration has expressed willingness to rejoin the multilateral pact. The last round of talks which ended on Tuesday will be resumed next week. The delegations have returned to the capitals for consultations.

Though all sides have expressed optimism over the revitalization of the JCPOA there is no guarantee that the nuclear deal talks will bear fruit during the Rouhani administration, whose term ends in August.

“Now removing sanctions is the first priority and making them ineffective is the next priority. If I want to want to negotiate, I will strengthen the country’s economy,” Ghassemi pointed out.

The former director of the IRGC construction unit added, “I see no ban on having relations with all countries in the world except the Zionist regime.”

On who would be his main competitor, he said it is difficult to predict because the two main rival factions – principlists and reformists - have not yet made decisions.

It is not possible to make such predictions until candidates are endorsed by the Guardian Council, he suggested.

Ghassemi also rejected speculation that he is eyeing the post of mayor in the metropolis of Tehran, saying, “I have no second plan.”

The term of the council elections will also come to an end in August and Tehran will see a new mayor.

Parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad served as Tehran mayors. 

Manouchehr Mottaki, the director of the unity council of principlists for the presidential election, has said he council’s most favored figure for the presidential post is Ebrahim Raisi, the current chairman of the Judiciary. However, Raisi has so far been silent about his possible candidacy.

Some principlist candidates have said if Raisi decides to run for the presidential election they will withdraw candidacy in his favor.

“Mr. Raisi has not yet announced presidential candidacy,” Ghassemi said when asked whether he will back down if Raisi enters the race.

Mottaki has said so far 10 potential principlist candidates have been asked to present their plans for the presidential post and name the key members of their cabinet. 

“Pragmatic government is needed”

The former chief of the construction body of the IRGC added, “Today, we need a pragmatic government.”

Noting that he is aware of the country’s potential, Ghassemi said, “I know the world very well and I have had the most foreign trips after the foreign minister and have met many heads of state.”

He added, “We are among the rich countries in the world and people should not live in hardship.”

This is a reality that today the country is economically is in a bad situation, the former oil minister said, adding the situation is “not favorable at all” and claimed that “we have reached from poverty to starvation.”

In a televised program a few days ago, Mottaki said so far letters have been sent to Judiciary Chief Raisi; Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezaei; Parliament speaker Ghalibaf; former Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili; Deputy Parliament speaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh; and Ali Nikzad, second deputy parliament speaker and former housing and transport minister.

Mottaki also said in recent days letters have also been sent to former director Khatam-al Anbiya Construction Headquarters Saeed Mohammad; former defense secretary Hossein Dehqan; and former chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) to present letters.

Accordingly, Rostam Ghassemi has also been added to the list.

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