Imam Ali KhameneiIranLeaders of UmmahMiddle East

Leader’s remark about ‘unjust treatment’ of some hopefuls prompts vetting body to issue statement

Iran’s Constitutional Council says no erroneous information was used in its vetting of presidential hopefuls, rejecting speculation that some of the hopefuls may have been disqualified based on untrue reports.

The statement by the Council came shortly after concise remarks on Friday (June 4) by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei about some of the hopefuls who were disqualified sparked a media frenzy and a flurry of speculation about the meaning of the Leader’s comments.

Earlier in the day, Ayatollah Khamenei said at the end of a televised speech that some of the hopefuls who had been disqualified had been treated unjustly.

“In the episode [where some hopefuls were not found qualified]…, some of those whose qualification [to run for president] had not been ascertained were wronged, were treated unjustly” the Leader said in his speech.

“Certain things were attributed to them — either to themselves or to their family members — that were not true. Well, there were wrong and incorrect reports… and they were later proven wrong, but they were spread among people by word-of-mouth, [and] were unfortunately published on virtual space,” he added.

Ayatollah Khamenei said one of the most important human rights was having one’s honor protected, and asked that “the pertinent authorities compensate… where some erroneous report has been delivered…about someone’s offspring, someone’s family.”

Even though Ayatollah Khamenei specifically referred to the spread of the misinformation by word-of-mouth and on “virtual space,” the fact that he did not specify which individuals had been treated unjustly or what wrong information had circulated allowed for a lot of conjecture.

There had already been unconfirmed media reports and by far more widespread speculation on social media that former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who was disqualified by the Constitutional Council from running in the 2021 presidential election, had been rejected because his daughter resided in a foreign country, a sensitive issue in Iranian politics, even though the Council had several times generically rejected speculation about its reasons for the disqualification of the hopefuls and had not publicized its deliberations.

It also didn’t help that Ayatollah Khamenei also referred to “erroneous reports.” While vetting hopefuls, the Constitutional Council commissions detailed reports about the records of individuals from other organizations.

Together, the Leader’s remarks led many to think that he was complaining about the disqualifications, even though he had in an earlier speech backed up the Constitutional Council.

Council spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaee wrote on Twitter almost immediately after Ayatollah Khamenei’s speech that the Leader had the final say and that the Council would issue a relevant decision shortly — which also strengthened speculations that the vetting body could change its decisions.

Hours later, though, the Council said in a statement that erroneous reports had not been used in determining who could or could not run.

“During and after the vetting of presidential hopefuls, wrong allegations were made on virtual space and in some media against some honorable hopefuls and their families, citing certain untrue and unsubstantiated reports,” the Council said in the statement, adding that “certain erroneous reports played no role in the Constitutional Council’s final decision.” It also wished the Leader health and a long life.

The Iranian Interior Ministry published the list of the candidates qualified to run in the June 18 presidential election on May 25. The list, drawn up by the Constitutional Council, named seven candidates, excluding Larijani, and another prominent figure, Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, among others. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani then wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei to complain about the disqualifications.

Later on Friday, Larijani thanked Ayatollah Khamenei for his “admonishment and request to compensate for the injustice that was made in the vetting of the qualifications of presidential candidates.”

The disqualifications by the Constitutional Council particularly irked the Reformist faction, which had hoped to field Jahangiri as its top candidate and which saw more eminent hopefuls affiliated with it disqualified.

In the interval between the Leader’s remarks and the Constitutional Council’s statement, Nasser Hemmati, an approved candidate associated with the Reformists, hoped that “the speculations about my brothers, Misters Larijani, Jahangiri and [Masoud] Pezeshkian, would turn into reality.” Pezeshkian was another Reformist who was disqualified.

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