Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, a close aide and advisor to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has announced that the government will not allow anything to compromise the health and transparency of the presidential election.
In an interview with the state news agency IRNA on Sunday March 24, Mashai said the president has announced that he will be ready to confront even the slightest shadow of doubt about the running of the elections.
Iran’s presidential election is set for June 2013. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not eligible to run, having already served two consecutive terms, but he is reportedly intent on promoting his close advisor, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, to run in the race.
The conservative factions of the establishment, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, have fallen at odds with Ahmadinejad and his allies in recent years and are counting the days to the end his term.
The 2009 presidential election became controversial after the reformist candidates questioned the legitimacy of the vote count and Ahmadinejad’s victory. Mass street protests were violently put down after Ayatollah Khamenei announced his support for Ahmadinejad.
Now the tables have turned and Ahmadinejad is predicting possible tampering with the election process and has implicitly accused forces loyal to the supreme leader of planning illegal interference in the running of the election.
Mashai underplayed the fissures between Iran’s supreme leader and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying: “The level of compliance of Dr. Ahmadinejad’s administration with the honoured leader of the Revolution [Ayatollah Khamenei] is not comparable to any past administration.”
He stressed that Ahmadinejad has already instructed all of his cabinet not to act in a manner that might be interpreted as open support for one of the candidates. He added that the administration has shown that it will not shy away from dismissing individuals even from the highest positions, which might even happen right up until election day.
Ahmadinejad has already shuffled cabinet ministers and university heads, which his opponents in Parliament have interpreted as positioning for the coming election.