‘Brother Bush’ and poetry for elections
They may have no chance of making it through the tough screening process, but eccentric Iranians were out in force as the interior ministry opened its doors for wannabe presidents.
One of the first in line was Haji Abdollahi Sefid Kasseh, who had travelled to Tehran all the way from the far northeastern province of Khorassan. “You have to fill in the questionnaire,” a civil servant overseeing the form-filling process for would-be candidates told him.
“Can you do it for me? I’ve come a long way, and I’m tired,” replied Kasseh, a turbaned 72-year-old who had clearly missed out on a good night’s sleep. But if elected on June 17, he pledged, he would not shy away from working on the real task at hand for the successor of reformist President Mohammad Khatami: restoring ties with arch-enemy the United States after a quarter of a century of animosity.
The country gent said he would sit down at the table with US President George W Bush and tell him “we are all brothers”. “We have to teach our arts to others and they should teach us theirs,” is how he explained his detente tactic. “And my art is poetry.”
The registration process ends on Saturday evening, after which commences the tough screening process overseen by the Guardians Council — an unelected and hardline-controlled body that decides which names can go on the ballot sheet. The Council has at least five days to approve or reject candidates, who must be “a religious or political personality, of Iranian origin, have Iranian nationality, be a sensible manager, have an irreproachable past, be virtuous and honest, be a believer and loyal to the values of the Islamic republic and of the official religion,” the Shiite branch of Islam. afp