Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran’s Expediency Council and a seasoned Islamic Republic politician, says “free and open elections would solve many of the current problems of the country.”
The moderate cleric stressed that “in addition to building trust amongst the people, the supporters of the system, it will disappoint foreign enemies and disarm them in many ways.”
Other critics of the country’s current political situation, such as former president Mohammad Khatami, have expressed similar views in the past.
The moderate cleric is quoted as saying: “The exit path from the current situation is through measured and wise decisions and exploiting all human, managerial and resource potentials to protect and strengthen unity and refrain from extremism and scandal mongering.”
Hashemi Rafsanjani sided with the opposition following the controversial 2009 elections, which led to to the complete isolation of the reformists in Iranian politics and the incarceration of thousands of protesters, who alleged that the vote was rigged.
Rafsanjani himself was removed from his position as head of the Assembly of Experts; however, he retained his position as chairman of the Expediency Council and still retains some power in the establishment.
He has called for a more open political atmosphere and the acceptance of constructive criticism.
The reformist candidates in the 2009 presidential elections have been under house arrest since February of 2011, and the political arena has been predominantly closed to reformists in recent years.
The next presidential election is due to be held next June, and the conservative factions have said that reformists will not be allowed to run in the election unless they denounce their approach in the last election.
The reformists candidates in 2009 refused to accept the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the legitimacy of his government, thus triggering widespread protests that were only quelled after months of a violent state crackdown.