Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has put himself at the heart of the nation’s forthcoming presidential election by urging candidates to avoid the potential pitfall of aspiring office-holders the world over – the undeliverable promise.
Ayatollah Khamenei – who has the final say on all state matters – has made the plea in a special election page on his personal website that leaves little doubt that he is the ultimate arbiter in the country’s electoral process.
The advice is contained in a list of dos and don’ts of political etiquette that the ayatollah, Iran’s leading cleric, expects to be observed in the run-up to the June 14 poll.
While he does not elaborate, Ayatollah Khamenei may be mindful of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s extravagant pledge to put Iran’s oil wealth on people’s dinner tables before winning his first term in 2005.
In contrast to his lofty promises, Mr Ahmadinejad’s presidency has been marked by rising inflation and falling living standards.
Ayatollah Khamenei is also anxious to avoid a repeat of the upheaval that followed Mr Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009, when millions of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against what was widely seen as mass fraud. Iran’s leaders claimed the protests were a western-backed plot.
With that in mind, the supreme leader reminds candidates that they must not blur the distinctions with the nation’s enemies, whom he says wish to foment discord and civil war in Iran.
“When the line is blurred it is very likely that some people cross this line or the enemy crosses it and comes to this side, or friends and insiders might forget and cross the line and go over to the enemy,” he writes.
Election rivalries must be kept within the confines of Iran’s ruling system, or “nezam”, he adds.
A powerful clerical body, the guardian’s council, will vet potential candidates before deciding who is allowed to stand. Mr Khamenei is believed to want predominantly conservative nominees.
Mr Ahmadinejad, who has fallen out with the supreme leader, is constitutionally barred from seeking a third successive term.
Ayatollah Khamenei’s office has maintained his website for several years. Officials also maintain accounts for him on Twitter and Facebook – even though they are officially banned in Iran.
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