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Newspaper Close To Khamenei Office Criticizes Officials Who Do Not Retire After 80

Ahmad Jannati in a session of elite council of Iran-- 11 Jul 2019
Ahmad Jannati in a session of elite council of Iran-- 11 Jul 2019

A hardliner Iranian newspaper linked to the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is criticizing Iranian politicians of advanced age who insist on holding official positions past the age of 80.

Referring to the recent resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Jomhouri Eslami [Islamic Republic] published a commentary on Monday, August 31 claiming that some elderly Iranian politicians have difficulty walking, yet still hold sensitive positions.

The daily, whose managing editor is Massih Mohajeri, a cleric close to the core of the Iranian regime, did not refer to any particular Iranian politician.

Ironically, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, a hardliner member of Iran's Majles Parliament, reminded readers in a Monday tweet that Mohajeri, 60, has been the managing editor of Jomhouri Eslami since its launch in 1981. The daily has remained largely unchanged since its inception in its form and content, and has maintained its initial slant and even its same graphic layout.

Iranians are likely familiar with many statesmen, such as the 89-year-old Guardian Council and Expediency Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who are confined to wheelchairs because of old age, but still hold more than one key position requiring agility and sharpness in decision-making.

Yazdi was recently elected as a member of the Assembly of Experts, which is at least his third key position.

Other examples include Ebrahim Sheibani, the Tehran University Chancellor and a member of the Majles and the Tehran City Council, who has been photographed dozing off several times in the past two decades.

Pictures of biannual meetings of the Assembly of Experts, a body that is tasked with finding a replacement for Supreme Leader Khamenei, also often show elderly politicians sound asleep in the middle of serious meetings.

The Jomhouri Eslami editorial also observed that "(some) Iranian politicians are not even willing to let go of official positions even when they grow older than 90," and advised elderly politicians "to take a lesson from the Japanese Prime Minister."

One of the most well-known elderly politicians in Iran who has been the subject of many jokes and cartoons is Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, 93, who is the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the secretary of the Guardian Council.

Jannati has been the butt of many Iranian jokes that say he was a contemporary of Adam and Eve and played with dinosaurs as a child.

The commentary referred to the Law Banning the Employment of Retired Individuals, and said that even this law has not managed to coax elderly officials out of the office. The commentary added that although the law is still in effect, politicians have used advice by senior officials to exert pressure on various organizations to keep them employed, sometimes asking Khamenei for assistance to keep them in office past their retirement age.

The law was approved by the Majles in August 2018, but two years later, many officially-retired individuals are said to be holding official positions based on Khamenei's advice.

Reports from Iran say the Rouhani administration and various other institutions, even some of those that operate under the aegis of Khamenei's office -- including the state broadcaster, the Judiciary and the Supreme Council of National Security, as well as Oil, Health, and Intelligence Ministries and the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization -- have sought Khamenei's approval to keep retired individuals in office.

At 83, Khamenei has been holding the position of Supreme Leader for 32 years, and currently stands as one of the longest-serving officials in the world.

The Assembly of Experts houses the largest proportion by far of elderly Iranian politicians, with one of its oldest members, Ebrahim Amini, passing away in April at the age of 95.