As factional disputes escalate, mullah Khalkhali quits race for Assembly of Experts election

The state-controlled press reported that mullah Sadeq Khalkhali announced he will not run for a seat in the Assembly of Experts.

In an interview with pro-Khatami daily, Kar-o Kargar, Khalkhali said "approving a number of unqualified individuals as candidates for the Assembly of Experts and rejecting others who are qualified," are among reasons for his decision not to run.

Khalkhali executed thousands of people upon Khomeini's orders and is the third mullah close to Khatami who decided not to run for the Assembly of Experts elections. Preceding him were mullah Seyyed Jalaleddin Taheri, Friday prayer leader and Khamenei's representative in Isfahan, and mullah Fazel Harandi also announced in the past days that they will not run for the Assembly.

With the elections only ten days away, power struggle among the ruling factions has reached a critical point. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has emphasized that participation in the elections is more important than the election of individuals. Rafsanjani and the state radio and television have backed Khamenei and endorsed the performance of the Guardians Council. The rival faction is countering by having several important mullahs withdrawing their nominations to put pressure on the Khamenei faction. In last Sunday's session of the Majlis, several deputies from Khamenei's faction led unprecedented personal attacks on Khatami, whom they blamed for the government's incompetence in dealing with the country's economic woes.

Meanwhile, Khatami continues to maintain complete silence on the "most important election" in the regime. Without mentioning the watchdog Guardians Council by name, Khatami today criticized the Council's partial stance in favor of Khamenei's faction and told a seminar of government officials: "Some institutions in the country which must act on a national basis have become partisan in their conduct and many facilities which must be at the service of the nation are serving political groups."

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
October 13, 1998

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