Opinion: The supreme leader comes first in Iran

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Not the first time

This is not the first time that the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader has bypassed all legal channels and imposed his command on bodies such as parliament, which is based on the mandate of the people and which, according to the constitution, is the only body authorized to ratify bills.

Over the past four decades and in numerous occasions, both Khamenei and his predecessor, Khomeini, have directly interfered with laws, ignoring legislative procedures within the Islamic Republic’s structure.

In August 2000, for example, when reformist MPs tried to adopt the Press Law and open up the media in Iran, Ali Khamenei prevented the move by sending a letter to Mehdi Karroubi, who was the speaker of parliament at the time. In his letter, he said MPs should stay away from the law and as a result, the Majlis did not amend the rule despite the majority’s willingness to do so.

In 2006, Khamenei changed the constitution’s article 44, which concerned the privatization of Iran’s economy.

According to Iranian law, changing the constitution can be done only by a referendum. In 2009, the supreme leader dismissed former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s deputy Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, forcing him to appoint someone else. He also did not allow MPs to question the president in 2012.

And as an ongoing, but unwritten policy in Iran, presidents should first get the supreme leader’s approval on the appointment of ministers. However, the law demands that parliament should approve ministers named by president.

Above everything else

The supreme leader’s commands are not limited to bodies and offices that are based on public vote such as parliament and presidents. In some cases, he has vetoed the decisions of non-elective bodies as well. During the 2005 presidential elections, for instance, the Guardian Council disqualified six candidates close to reformists but later, two of them were approved by Ali Khamenei himself.

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