Experts Assembly Convenes Again

A top cleric said people should feel responsible and cast their ballots for the best candidate in the upcoming presidential election
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati chairs a meeting of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on March 7.  Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati chairs a meeting of the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on March 7.

The second two-day meeting of the fifth Assembly of Experts, a clerical body empowered to appoint and dismiss the Leader of Islamic Revolution and monitor his performance, opened in Tehran on Tuesday.  

On the first day of the event, chairman of the assembly, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, and some other members discussed domestic and international issues, IRNA reported.

In his speech, Ayatollah Jannati pointed to the upcoming presidential election, stressing the need to promote maximum public participation.

"People should feel the responsibility and go to the polls and cast their ballots for the best candidate," he said.

Ayatollah Jannati is also the chairman of Guardians Council, a high-ranking body in charge of supervising elections and checking candidates' qualifications.

The meeting will end by issuing a final declaration.

On Thursday, the members will go to the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in southern Tehran to renew their allegiance to the ideals of the late founder of the Islamic Republic.

Later, they will meet the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

The first meeting of the new assembly, whose members were elected on Feb. 26 last year, was held in June.

  Anti-Iran US Report Dismissed

On the sidelines of the meeting, President Hassan Rouhani, a member of the assembly and a potential contender in the May 19 presidential vote, criticized US officials for questioning the soundness of Iranian elections.

He was referring to the US Department of State's 2016 human rights report on Iran released on March 3, which accused Iran of "falling short of international standards for free elections".

Rouhani said Iranian elections are "free, healthy, competitive and democratic", advising those who criticize Iranian elections to take a look at their own elections.

"The recent US [presidential] election was questioned by both major candidates [representing the Republicans and Democrats], and even the incumbent US President [Donald Trump] expressed doubt over the health of elections [after the vote]. So Americans would do well to focus attention to their elections and reform [its procedure]," he said.

In his election campaign in October 2016, Trump had announced, "I will totally accept the results of the election if I win."

After winning the 2016 election, Trump said he still believed claims that "three to five million" illegal votes were cast in the election.

Rouhani said Iran's elections are "well-organized" by the Interior Ministry and "strongly overseen" by the Guardians Council.

"When 70% to 73% of Iranians come to cast their ballots, it means they believe in elections," he said, referring to the high turnout of Iranian nation in the last presidential election in 2013.

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