Iran’s political limelight is increasingly focused on whether former President Mohammad Khatami will run again. On March 16, 91 reformist leaders published an open letter calling on Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005, to run again in the June 14 election.
The 91 signatories to the open letter — who include leading political activists and former ministers — blamed Iran’s growing economic woes on government mismanagement. It said:
“Today, our nation has been entrusted with a precious legacy. Unfortunately, suffering, malice, rancor, and ill-posed problems are part of the official policy, which has put the country in a continually concerning situation for both sides [reformists and conservatives].”
The letter said the June 14 election offers a chance for new leadership to bring “peace, well-being, progress and international credibility” to Iran. The signatories recalled Khatami’s moderate approach to politics and his unparalleled popularity. They also offered thanks to his administration. “We hope that today, for the sake of the people, he may… in this crucial moment, accept this responsibility [to run for president].” So far, Khatami has not indicated whether he will run.
A Reformist Playbook for the Next President
In mid-March, 46 advisors, economists and political activists who were active during Khatami’s presidency released a comprehensive report titled “Fears and Hopes, Dos and Don’ts.” The study, which was presented to Khatami, attempts to provide solutions to Iran’s economic, social, political and cultural problems.
The report says that Iran’s economic growth and development encountered new obstacles after 2005, although it did not mention the president by name. The report argues that a small number of individuals and banks now hold a disproportionately large amount of capital, which has exacerbated corruption. Many Iranians now face rising unemployment and high inflation, according to the study. Between 10 and 15 million are impoverished. The report warns that poverty is a major factor behind the rise in crime, corruption, violence, and drug addiction.
The study group, in its appeal to Khatami, outlined 11 principles to help solve Iran’s problems:
·Uphold the law and the constitution
·Protect freedom based on the rule of law
·Maintaining the honor and dignity of human beings and society
·Safeguarding civil rights for all peoples regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation
·Uphold equality of people before the law
·Deal with people in a fair and honest way
·Develop both the individual and society, and tie economic growth to social justice
·Preserve Iran’s national interests when interacting with other countries
·Develop natural resources in a sustainable way
·Ensure government efficiency and beneficial interaction with the market and civil society
·Promote economic and social stability based on sustainable growth and development
Khatami thanked the group for the study. “[I] hope that the next steps… to solve the problems” will be implemented, he reportedly wrote. Khatami has until mid-May to register to run. Candidates for the June 14 election must also be approved by the Guardian Council.
Garrett Nada is a Program Assistant at USIP in the Center for Conflict Management.
Photo credit: Mohammad Khatami by Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org), swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger (World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2007) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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