Middle East

Iran minister warns ex-presidents over elections

Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi gestures as he delivers a speech in front of portraits of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during Friday prayers at Tehran University in Tehran, Iran, Friday, July 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN: Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi on Thursday warned ex-presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, without naming them, over their alleged role in the protest movement that followed Iran's disputed 2009 elections.

The two former presidents have not yet announced if they will contest the June 14 presidential election to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cannot stand for a third consecutive term.

"We say to he who claims to have predicted the 2009 plot that he did not predict anything because we have very specific information on his role in the plot," Moslehi said, quoted by the Mehr and Fars news agencies.

Rafsanjani, a moderate who was president from 1989 to 1997, has said he had "predicted" the demonstrations and clashes which followed the contested re-election of Ahmadinejad to the presidency in 2009.

The two reformist candidates in the 2009 elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, had called for the protests after they rejected the results on charges of fraud. They have been kept under house arrest since.

Moslehi also issued a thinly-veiled warning to Khatami, who was a reformist head of state from 1997 to 2005.

"One of the leaders of the plot, who was not put under house arrest like the other two for various reasons, should not fool himself and think that the revolutionary power has forgotten the role he played in the plot," he said in a speech in the northern city of Qom.

Reformist newspapers and officials have stepped up calls for the two former presidents to contest the election, although people close to them have dismissed the idea for the moment.

Several figures from both the conservative and reformist camps have already announced they will stand and will officially put their names forward between May 7 and 11.

The process of screening candidates is entrusted to the Guardians Council, an unelected body controlled by religious conservatives named by the Islamic republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The council is set to announce the names of those who have been cleared to stand by May 23 and successful candidates will have three weeks to campaign ahead of the elections.





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