Ali Larijani, possibly one of the top contenders in Iran’s June 18 presidential election, answered questions from 20,000 potential voters in a three-hour conversation on the Clubhouse audio chat app on Thursday evening.

It was an opportunity to meet face to face with a state official who represents Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in dealings with China and until a year ago was speaker of the Iranian parliament, although some barriers hindered full dialogue. The moderators didn’t allow everyone to ask what they wanted to ask, and at times they seemed to turn off Larijani’s microphone, blaming the technical issues.

The questions covered social and political issues, including the compulsory hijab, nuclear negotiations with world powers, Larijani’s record as head of parliament and state television. Larijani introduced himself as an advocate for gender equality and asked the moderators to allow more women to come to the virtual ‘stage’ to ask questions, but only a few, mainly women working with women. media outside of Iran have been fortunate.

Expansion of American trade

Larijani advocated a constitutional amendment to create a senate; defended the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal with world powers, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action); called for the lifting of US sanctions; supported President Hassan Rouhani’s position to join the Intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF); and advocated the expansion of trade with the United States once the JCPOA was revived.

These positions are largely those of the Rouhani government, which Larijani supported as speaker of parliament after Rouhani was elected president in 2013 and opened negotiations leading to the JCPOA. Larijani praised Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for his efforts to improve international relations with East and West, and called for an end to internet filtering.

Political analyst Sadeq Zibakalam tweeted dismissing Larijani’s appearance as offering “the same usual answers regime officials have up their sleeve.” In an audio file released by Khabar Online, Zibakalam said he did not understand why Larijani wanted to run for office given that Raeesi was “the regime’s choice”. Zibakalam hinted that Larijani was ordered to run only to make a lackluster election more exciting.

Empty promises

Also attacking Larijani, Conservative politician Mostafa Mirsalim tweeted that “empty promises, populism, lies, hypocrisy, arrogance and corruption of state officials are at the root of the low turnout in elections.”

In his tweet, Zibakalam suggested that the Clubhouse discussion was important in that “Iranian journalists and opposition figures abroad were able to ask questions about political prisoners, Revolutionary Court verdicts , those who were killed during the protests of November 2019, etc. ” “

Far from the Clubhouse, which he did not use, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued to assert his demands to be allowed to stand for election. Its official media tweeted that “Corrupt security guards could wreak havoc by shooting down plane or causing train crash, or large explosion or fire to get public attention as they justify low voter turnout following the disqualification of popular candidates “.

Ahmadinejad said last week that he would not vote in the election – and call on his supporters to join him – if he was not included in the list of candidates to be announced by the Guardian Council on May 27. A phone poll conducted earlier this month by Stasis for Iran International TV gave Ahmadinejad 29% support among those who said they would vote in the June 18 election.

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