Another Meeting Without Legal Basis

The constitution of the Islamic Republic is a kosher example to demonstrate the lack of people’s supervision over government’s performance and the absence of legal restrictions. The constitution provides the Expert Assembly (EA) with the maximum tools to supervise the activities of the Leader of the Islamic Republic. This body consists of 12 selected clerics who overview the activities of the Velayat Faghih. The body also has the responsibility of appointing or dismissing the Leader, at least on paper. Also legally, this body is independent from other government agencies and so one may assume that it can act independently. And as a further protection of its independence, its deliberations are to be held publicly so the nation can sense how independent or not it really is. But the appointees are also appointed by the very leader they are supposed to monitor, so here is where the vicious circle begins. This issue has created headaches even among some senior clerics in the Islamic system.
So you have a situation where appointees are supposed to judge their boss.
In short, the EA appoints the Leader who in turn appoints members of the Guardian Council (GC), who in turn approves who will get into the EA to judge the Leader. Wonderful!
And so the debates to on. Rasool Montakhabnia who is a Majlis deputy and a leader of the Majmae Rohaniyune Mobarez, a powerful clerics association, has complained that when imam Khomeini lived, the candidates for the EA had to be approved by only two teachers of Qom Theological Center, whereas nowadays it is the Guardian Council that does this, which he says is the domination of the regressive clerics over political institutions.
Also, Mousavi Tabrizi, who happens to be the boss of the powerful Qom Theological Center has told ILNA that many of his faculty members feel insulted to be tested by members of the Guardians Council, whom they consider below in knowledge and standing. He adds that the EA’s job is to monitor the activities of the Leader and appoint the leader during an emergency. “How can those who have been appointed by the Leader judge him or appoint him?” he asks. He concludes that the EA members are in fact appointments and not elected.
The agenda of the 15th summit of the Experts Assembly that was held last week is completely out of the jurisdiction provided by Iran’s constitution. Its main duty, as defined by the law, is the supervision over the leader’s functions, which is being completely ignored. Holding elections to appoint members or the EA is in fact a selection process, rather than an election process. How one can claim, as many clerics do, that the Islamic Republic constitution has provided for an assembly to oversee the activities of the leader that would directly present its report to the people and the media, when the current agenda and activities of the EA contradict this?
In last week’s meeting of the Experts Assembly, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a senior fundamentalist clergy and supporter of absolute powers for the Leader criticized ayatollah Meshkini’s interpretation of the constitution by siding with the interpretations of the ruling circles of the theocracy. For example, he said that elections only strengthen the administrative powers of the clerics. Clerics while accepting elections do not need them, he continued, and who have the divine right and duty to intervene in all aspects of political and social life of the community, whose citizens had the duty of accepting the Leader’s orders.

This article was originally published in Roozonline on September 14, 2005