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: "Date Added:Mar 12 2005 Print Version
Rafsanjani Winning Hearts and Minds
Toseh, Daily Newspaper, No. 1070, Mar. 9th, 2005, Page 10
Mohammad Atrianfar, a leading member of the Executives of Construction Party, says former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is winning support automatically. He says the nation has concluded that an experienced captain is needed to lead it out of the current impasse.
Following is the full text of Mohammad Atrianfar's interview with Toseh daily.
Q: Political parties and associations have accelerated their activities in recent years in a bid to make themselves further known but the Executives of Construction Party has not been so active. Why such an approach?
A: Response to this question needs information about the basis of a political party. The executives believe that Iran’s political structure has not yet understood “multipartism” although the Constitution defines tasks for political parties. Few are the groups to be referred to as parties and we can see only friendly reunions.
Q: So what is the reason behind the existence of the Executives of Construction Party?
A: From a pathological viewpoint, the groups presenting themselves as parties have yet to see the contents of a black box defining relations between our political system and parties. The executives were not from the very beginning forming any party. Under special circumstances, technocrats decided to play a role in the state affairs and they had to work under the aegis of a party in the light of the conditions of the time. In fact, Iran’s political system rewarded the executives of construction with the title of party. The executives swept the legislative election and everybody understood that the elite should not be barred from contribution to decision-making procedures. They reached their goals with the landmark victory in May 1997 of Mohammad Khatami.
Q: Members of this party say in their interviews with the newspapers that the Executives of Construction should let younger forces take the helm of affairs. Senior officials have reportedly opposed any activity of the executives. What is happening?
A: We have not officially got any message from the authorities but some of our outspoken members have been treated unfairly. We cannot take any action when we have no official warrant.
Q: Iran may be unfamiliar with parties but political groups have won votes in certain elections. How can the Executives of Construction Party remain accountable to the people when it halts its activities?
A: We should see what has taken place in the society. Real parties represent special segments of the society and other groups are not party. The Islamic Coalition Party, the Islamic Revolutionary Mujahideen Organization, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Executives of Construction are parties. The country has passed eight years of reformism and we have reached a three-dimensional outcome. One group, with traditionalist attitudes, is led by ICP and its like-minded groups, a second pragmatist one is commanded by IRMO while a third one has emerged with liberal views. IIPF and ECP represent this latest. We intend to press ahead with reforms and we cannot restrict reformism to a specific group.
Q: In the build-up to June’s presidential election, ECP seems to be in favor of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to get his job back. Can you tell us if Mr Rafsanjani would run for president?
A: Mr Rafsanjani behaves differently from other candidates. He does not represent a special group and he cannot contest any specific rival. Rafsanjani is intrinsically unwilling to stand in the election.
Q: Mr Rafsanjani has launched an exciting political atmosphere in the country and everybody is frustrated. Don’t you think that Mr Hashemi’s behavior is a disregard of the society?
A: I don’t think that Mr Rafsanjani has begun a political game. Specific conditions in the society constitute the reason behind the name of Mr Rafsanjani being bandied about in the press. The society has concluded that an experienced captain is desperately needed. Therefore, there is no political game and that is just an instinctive gesture. Mr Rafsanjani has made it clear that he would not throw his hat into the ring until the conditions require his presence. He will be of the same view for at least one and a half month. If there was any game, others could disturb it. I think that Mr Rafsanjani is winning a consensus without any real intention. The elite has accepted Mr Rafsanjani as the qualified candidate for the number two job.
Q: Why is the presence of Mr Rafsanjani tied to the conditions of the society?
A: Mr Rafsanjani maintains that radicalism should be checked in the society so that Iran can have dialogue with the world in a bid to create better living conditions for the people. But if radical groups take top posts in the country the nation would face potential threats. Mr Rafsanjani feels obliged to contribute to defending the identity of the Islamic establishment in Iran and his presence, to me, will be a sacrifice. Mr Rafsanjani says radicalism is managed by certain centers in the country and he calls for resistance against such attitude.
Q: President Mohammad Khatami had said his hands were tied and he did not enjoy pervasive authority while Mr Rafsanjani is expected to create major changes in the society. Do you think that Mr Rafsanjani is determined enough to get his post back and practice bigger authority?
A: Mr Rafsanjani has never been a footman and he will never be so. Nor was Mr Khatami. A president enjoys enough power and using this term is not good. The important point is that the president should take advantage of his authority and lead social affairs.
Q: During his two terms of presidency, Mr Rafsanjani picked his Cabinet members from all political factions. He chooses the best economic ministers but he is not very precise on political and security managers. Is Mr Rafsanjani of the same attitude?
A: After the Iraqi war, the country needed reconstruction and any president must have paid due attention to economic development. Mr Rafsanjani insisted on reconstruction but he did enough for social and political development. Needless to say, many infrastructures were founded under the presidency of Mr Rafsanjani. The head of the Expediency Council must now have a different view of the state affairs. A government should not wipe the past off its mind and the governments should rely on their predecessors.
Q: When Mr Rafsanjani was president the country did not witness enough political development and the state officials were not called to order. Under presidency of Mohammad Khatami, political development emerged and students dared to be critical of the president. How can Mr Rafsanjani adapt himself to the present conditions?
A: Radicalism should be controlled because of its instability. Any president should be accountable under the present circumstances and such a thing will take place. Mr Rafsanjani will definitely control radicalism.
Q: Mr Rafsanjani has yet to declare his intention to run for president. The rightist faction is nominating former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati wile the reformist may be in favor of former minister of education Mohammad Ali Najafi. What will you do if Mr Rafsanjani backs Velayati?
A: Such a probability will never occur. Mr Rafsanjani will defend anyone who is against radicalism and can bolster the policies for balancing the Islamic system. We are still in hibernation and we face restrictions. The ECP will not shift support for any other candidate than Rafsanjani but it does not mean inactivism.
Q: But other parties have chosen their favorite candidates to make necessary planning.
A: Yes, you are right. IIPF is in favor of former minister of higher education Mostafa Min and the League of Combatant Clerics backs former speaker of parliament Mehdi Karroubi. ECP supports Rafsanjani. In case the former president sits out, we may coalesce with reformists.
Q: Is ECP likely to defend Hassan Rohani?
A: Rohani has not announced his intention to stand in the election. We cannot field any nominee before they decide to run. If Moin is disqualified by the Guardian Council the IIPF will split.
Q: Does it mean a political impasse for reformism?
A: No, that is not so because the people are in favor of reforms. Reformism does not rely on merely its self-declared representatives. Those who introduced themselves as “developers” no longer repeat their pragmatic mottoes and they are moving towards reforms. The reform movement is still lively."