2017 Presidential debates

Who wanted Iran’s presidential debates to be prerecorded?

Al-Monitor |Saeid Jafari: In the 2013 Iranian presidential debates, then-candidate Hassan Rouhani accused his main rival, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, of having favored an iron fist in dealing with the 1999 student protests when Ghalibaf was national police chief while Rouhani was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. Rouhani said, “Mr. Ghalibaf has raised issues that I did not want to discuss here. But now that you have brought it up, I need to state some realities. In the July 1999 meeting, your position was to give the students permits for protests. You said, ‘Let’s wait for them to come out,’ so you and your forces could crush them with a pincer attack. I told you that this is not the way to go. If we give them permits, we also need to provide for their safety.” Rouhani famously thundered, “Mr. Ghalibaf! I am not a colonel, I am a lawyer!”

Rouhani won the presidency in 2013, and many observers have said his remarks in the debates nipped Ghalibaf’s presidential ambitions in the bud.Now, as Iran nears its May 19 presidential elections, live TV debates have once again become a hot topic. On April 20, Interior Ministry Spokesman Seyed Salman Samani announced that the Election Campaign Monitoring Committee had decided that there would be no live debates in the run-up to the vote and that, instead, the presidential debates would be prerecorded.

The Interior Ministry announcement stated that the committee had decided to record the debates and then review them in the presence of the candidates or their representatives in order to delete potential insults or accusations made against any candidate before anything was aired.

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