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Iranian Government to Hold Referendum on Electoral Law

Iranian Government to Hold Referendum on Electoral Law

Thursday, 13 February, 2020 - 09:15
Two Iranians walk past a mural in one of Tehran’s streets on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 (EPA)

The Iranian government announced Wednesday it was preparing a new draft law for a referendum that would limit the powers of the Guardian Council of the Constitution.

The 12-member Guardian Council consists of six Muslim clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader and six lawyers elected by parliament. It is charged with ensuring that draft laws do not contradict with religious laws or Iran’s constitution and overseeing elections and legislation.

Iranian president's assistant for legal affairs Laya Junaidi made the announcement and was quoted by news agencies as saying that the bill will be presented to the Iranian cabinet to set the framework for overseeing the Guardian Council.

She pointed to differences between the government and the Guardian Council in interpreting the task of corrective oversight.

“Any interpretation must respect the boundaries when implemented, she stressed, adding that “if it causes the prohibition, restriction, and loss of rights, the original right must be taken into consideration.”

Electoral campaigns will be launched on Thursday (today), eight days before the Iranians head to the ballot boxes to vote, amid fears of declining turnout.

President Hassan Rouhani slammed on Tuesday the disqualification of thousands of people, including 90 current lawmakers, from running in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Most of those rejected were reformist and moderate candidates who were disqualified due to “financial problems,” a reference to embezzlement and corruption.

He indirectly called for the need to hold a referendum in the country over a new system of rule amid internal criticism of the Supreme Leader’s control over state affairs and agencies, vastly exceeding the power of the government.

The President said the current system is based on the “will of the people” and the “referendum.”

He issued an order on Feb. 7 to submit a regulation on “reforming the supervision of the elections.”

Rouhani’s orders came in response to a message by the “Union of the Nation of Iran” - the largest reformist party - which asked the Iranian president, a few days ago, to submit a draft-law to conduct a referendum on the supervision of the Guardian Council.

The Union of the Nation of Iran party took advantage of Rouhani’s statements about the need to hold a referendum and urged him to return to the public opinion on sensitive issues, such as economy, politics, society, and culture.

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