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Parliament Opens In Iran As Chairman Calls It 'Supreme Leader's Majles'


President Hassan Rouhani attending first session of the new parliament. May 27, 2020

The interim chairman of Iran's new parliament has characterized the new Iranian Majles as the "Supreme Leader's Majles", and the Islamic Republic's leader Ali Khamenei in his message stressed the importance of his undefined theory of Jihadist Economy as a guideline for the new parliament.

The new parliament is packed with conservative and hardliner loyal followers of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

Concerns about relations between Iran's conservative-dominated parliament and President Hassan Rouhani's administration also overshadowed the first meeting of the legislature on Wednesday, May 27.

The Majles will officially start business on May 28 by beginning discussions before the election of its speaker and presidium members which is planned for Sunday.

In the meantime, two of the oldest members of the parliament, Reza Taqavi and Mostafa Mirsalim, will chair the sessions and two of the youngest MPs will be their secretaries.

In a message read out by his chief of staff Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei advised the new Majles to adhere to the principles of Jihadist Economy, which is Khamenei's own economic theory for fixing Iran's troubled economy mired in crisis.

He also called on the Majles to follow his idea of boosting production but did not offer any way out of the current stagnation in production.

Speaking next, was President Hassan Rouhani who called for an accord between the Majles and his administration. This was particularly important as several new lawmakers have said they are planning to impeach Rouhani for what they described as his failures and poor performance. A few MPs have even called for his trial on charges of mismanagement and wasting the country's resources.

Rouhani called on the Majles to prioritize the national interest over factional interests and the interests of constituencies. Rouhani's last year in office as president coincides with the first year of the 11th Majles and political observers in Tehran have predicted "hard times" for Rouhani during the coming year.

Even before the legislature convened, Rouhani's Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi warned the new Majles not to interfere with the administration's business.

Reza Taqavi, the interim chairman who has no official responsibility other than running the sessions before the election of a speaker, promised Rouhani that the new Majles "will neither play the role of an advocate for the administration, nor will it act as its enemy."

However, he warned those who he called "controversial" MPs, not to engage in any controversial act.

Taqavi said that the new Majles is "the Majles of Velayat" referring to the Supreme Leader's guardianship of the people. In other words, he called it Khamenei's Majles.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the number of visitors to the Majles on this day was limited to handpicked officials including the heads of the executive and Judiciary bodies, the Interior Minister and the chief of staff of Khamenei's office.

The new parliament is in an exceptional situation as it has been elected in the relative absence of reformist candidates and based on one of the lowest turnouts in the history of elections in Iran. The great majority of prominent reformists were banned from running in the elections.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli, however, called the Majles election in February, "a golden page in the history of elections in Iran."

This comes while based on official statistics the national turnout figures in this election was 42.5 percent and the turnout in Tehran where around one fifth of the population lives, was around 25 percent.

Both Rahmani Fazli and Taqavi stressed in today's session of the Majles that the Election Law needs "serious revision."

All this happened against a backdrop of behind the scenes discussions and lobbying for the election of Majles Speaker.

Those named most recently as the contestants for the post are former Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Education Minister Hamid Reza Hajibabai, Islamic Coalition Party's prominent member Mostafa Mirsalim and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi.

Arman daily in Tehran revealed on Wednesday that some 200 MPS were present at a meeting called for Qalibaf while the number of those attending a meeting at a mosque in Tehran to see Hajibabai was only 47. Nevertheless, this may not be a true indication of support as analysts in Tehran say that Paydari Front and Ahmadinejad's supporters have been getting closer to each other during the past week, creating a majority at the Majles while Qalibaf who is facing corruption charges is shunned by the members of both groups and some 30 traditional conservatives at the new Majles.

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    Behrouz Turani

    Behrouz Turani is a British-Iranian writer and journalist as well as a consultant on Iran's political dynamics and the Iranian media landscape.

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