Need to Avoid Friction on Mayoral Appointment

Need to Avoid Friction on Mayoral AppointmentNeed to Avoid Friction on Mayoral Appointment

The head of Reformist Policymaking Council cautioned the newly-elected members of the reformist-studded Tehran City Council against provoking controversy over the appointment of the new Tehran mayor to replace conservative Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

"Election of Tehran's mayor should not be turned into a controversial issue," Mohammad Reza Aref told Tehran's councilors on Sunday, IRNA reported.

They were all on a list of a reformist-moderate slate that dislodged the rival conservatives from the council by winning all the 21 seats in the May 19 council elections.

The vote was held concurrently with the presidential election, in which moderate President Hassan Rouhani was reelected in another major setback for the conservative camp.

Qalibaf was one of the contestants in the presidential vote and launched a blistering attack on Rouhani and his performance, but later stepped down in favor of former prosecutor general Ebrahim Raeisi, who is the custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH).

The reformist-moderate coalition had already deprived conservatives of their control over parliament and Tehran's seats in the Assembly of Experts, an influential clerical body that selects the Leader of Islamic Revolution and supervises his work, in the elections in February 2016.

They swept all the 30 seats exclusive to the capital in the 290-member Majlis and 15 out of the 16 seats for the assembly, which has 88 members.

City councils in Iran, equivalent to local governments in other countries but with a weaker mandate, are responsible for appointing the mayor, supervising his performance and approving the municipality budget.

  Likely Goner

Reformists' take-over of the council has strongly reduced the possibility of Qalibaf staying in the job. He has held the post for 12 years and despite some achievements has often been castigated by reformists and apolitical urban planners, experts and respected environmentalists.

Aref accused Qalibaf of misusing authority to push his political agenda at the expense of the government's development plans.

"Unfortunately, due to a politically-tainted approach to managing the city and a short-term approach to urban planning and confrontation between the municipality and the government, most legitimate demands of the residents were never met."

Aref himself, however, has faced criticism over the way the reformist group picked the candidates for the Tehran council slate.

Some pro-coalition factions broke ranks with the body and released their own lists of hopefuls.

The city council votes are overseen by a special parliamentary board, while all other elections are supervised by the Guardians Council. 

Overall, there are 39,575 council seats in 1,245 cities, 1,057 counties and 2,589 villages.


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