In response to a question on the disqualification of Ali Larijani and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, spokesman of the Guardian Council, said “I do not know the reason for their rejection. We are not obliged to give reasons, but in last week three or four asked and the reasons were provided to them”. Kadkhodaei added that he hoped any issues regarding procedure of vetting candidates would be resolved through legislation by the Majles after the election, ignoring the fact that the Guardian Council changed the vetting criteria before the election against the wishes of the Majles.
Disqualified candidate Ali Larijani became the latest high-profile figure to release a statement encouraging people to vote on June 18. Larijani asked Iranians to put aside the controversy of the country’s internal and external problems and show that their will is greater than those they blame for Iran’s failures.
In his address on the anniversary of Khomeini’s death, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei complained of the disqualification of some candidates, saying that some were unjustly disqualified and “persecuted” on false information about family, and should be compensated. The Guardian Council quickly responded with spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei tweeting that the Leader’s words were to be obeyed and that they would make an announcement soon. The reference to family made it clear that Khamenei was speaking about Ali Larijani. Later that evening, the Guardian Council issued a statement in which they agreed with the Leader’s comments, but said the “false” information had not influenced their decision making and so no changes would be made to the list of candidates. Ali Larijani then published a handwritten letter to the Supreme Leader, in which he thanked him for “demanding the elimination of oppression and persecution as occurred in the examination of the qualifications of presidential candidates” before praising his “greatness, magnanimity and spirit of righteousness of the Imam (Khomeini)”.
Mohammad-Javad Larijani, senior advisor to Supreme Leader on foreign affairs, gave an interview in which he mostly defended his brothers, disqualified candidate Ali Larijani and Guardian Council member Amoli Larijani. However, he also commented on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s messianic Shi’a beliefs, saying they were deviant like Baha’ism. Larijani’s comments are serious as the Baha’i religion is illegal in Iran and its followers are regularly subject to discrimination, harassment and arrest.
Spokesperson for the Guardian Council, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, mentioned that he had spoken to Guardian Council member Amoli Larijani, the brother of disqualified candidate Ali Larijani, about comments he made regarding the list of candidates. On Tuesday May 25, the day of the announcement of the list of candidates, Amoli Larijani said that the security services had fed the Guardian Council false information in order to pressure them to disqualify candidates, adding that he had never encountered a more “indefensible” decision made by the Council. Kadkhodaei said that he spoke to Amoli Larijani about the need to avoid damage to the Islamic Republic, but added that “ultimately, I am not responsible for his (Amoli Larijani’s) words”.
Abdullah Ganji, the editor of the Principalist Javan newspaper, wrote that Ebrahim Raisi is speaking to both the Guardian Council and to other “elders” of the government in the endeavour to get them to reconsider the disqualification of several candidates, including Ali Larijani. Later in the day, Raisi told reporters that he was hoping for a reconsideration of the list, so that it is more “competitive and participatory”.
Sadeq “Amoli” Larijani, a member of the Guardian Council and brother of candidate Ali Larijani, has criticised the influence of security services whose reports were responsible for the disqualification of several candidates. Amoli Larijani said on Twitter “I have never found the decisions of the Guardian Council to be so indefensible… The cause of these disturbances is, to a large extent, the increasing involvement of the security apparatus in making decisions for the Guardian Council through false reports”.
FarsNews reported, without naming anyone, that the reason why the Guardian Council needed extra time to decide on candidates was because they were debating the eligibility of a senior figure whose daughter lives in the United States. This is a clear reference to Ali Larijani, whose daughter Fatemeh is a medical student in Ohio.
As part of a strategy to grab and hold newspaper headlines, Ali Larijani had another day of blitzing the media and social media. Larijani gave an interview with Lebanese news channel Al-Mayadeen in which he stated that he decided to run in the elections because the candidates were all the same and Iranian voters deserved an actual choice. Larijani also spoke positively of Iran’s foreign policy engagement, particularly the new deal with China, and making progress in negotiations with Saudi Arabia and the United States. Later in the day, Larijani engaged Saeed Jalili in a Twitter argument in which Jalili accused Larijani of wanting drama and not to solve problems, while Larijani labelled Jalili an “aide to the election”, referring to rumours that he will stand aside for Ebrahim Raisi.
When asked during his Clubhouse about a rumour that Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif may be his running mate, Ali Larijani responded that “anything is possible… I consider Zarif to be a very capable person, and he has performed very well in the nuclear negotiations”.