Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Khatami, The Ethical Politician

Presidential elections will be held along with nationwide council elections in mid June.  General economic and social conditions have prompted the Reformists who are still under pressure and restrictions after the disputed elections in 2009, to engage in a broad discourse on their political role in the future. Former President Khatami held consultative sessions for the past months and began a controversial debate on how reformists should face the upcoming electoral process. Diverse social and political orientations who feel close to the reformist camp took part and presented their assessments on the current status of affairs and on the options available for Reformists. A comprehensive study on the economic and social trends in Iranian society indicates that the targets and goals set in the 20- year Vision of the Islamic Republic and the development plans have not been achieved and that  lawlessness and incompetence have plagued government processes and programs during these recent  years. Following long hours of reporting and discussions, Reformists came to the  consensus that as believers in  reform they do not support regime change and nor can  they accept the expenses of another revolution, nor do they believe in violent methods, and even more they believe that any change must come as the result of an internal effort based on the diverse political orientations of the Iranian society. The terrible fate of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya and other regional countries cannot be applied to Iran. Therefore, social and political reforms within the existing frameworks need to be promoted and the electoral process with all the current shortcomings and restrictions is one of the most important means of achieving those objectives.  Although consensus on council elections was readily attained, but in the next phase all groups and representations came to the conclusion that we need to take part in both council and presidential elections. Concerns on the fairness of the election process also were debated.  Planning for the council elections has since been underway.
The ensuing debates on the possible scenarios and candidates  for the office of the President was more complicated and difficult. Reformists were banned from convening their national convention on this matter. All political parties were consulted and considering the ongoing restrictions and pressures, their views were incorporated in the reports and synthesis.  Reports on polls conducted by government offices also indicated that Khatami had an overwhelming popularity albeit years of ongoing efforts to smear his image. The majority of the participants in the discourse believed that a well known candidate with a clear background of reformist activity who has remained loyal to the reformist camp,  despite  the pressures should be appointed.  The criteria for a candidate who can respond to the diverse expectations of the constituency and who can regenerate an atmosphere of hope and national esteem were discussed . Although Mr. Khatami had announced initially that he was not willing to stand for candidacy , but the majority of the political groups and the activists even those in prison or exile announced their support for his candidacy. Khatami is a popular public figure, he does not belong to a particular orientation; he represents the general Iranian mentality.

On the eve of the new year, I joined 91 activists in inviting Khatami to stand for these elections. We issued the first official communique on this matter and subsequently 45 members of the consultative group presented their assessment of current conditions and a plan for reform in government processes and policies.
The general public have gradually  welcomed the call and initial evaluations point to much hope in this regard although he has not yet announced his candidacy.
Many other groups have now announced their support and readiness to stand behind Khatami in the upcoming elections.
Khatami has set the standards for integrity, competency and good governance . He is the living standard for Reformists and Iranians who aspire for an advanced and prosperous nation. His legacy stands as  a politician who kept his ethical and human standards while in office. Never did his unrivalled popularity and  power as a president   cause him to abuse power or to undermine legal or ethical standards. Even though, Khatami later faced many baseless allegations by his rivals and many members of his government and reformists faced imprisonment but he never waivered on his principles and stood firm in his resolve to change the current unfavorable conditions in Iran.