Two Kurdish Hopefuls Register for Iran’s Presidential Elections

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –14.5.2013 – RUDAW –  Two ethnic Kurds – one a former governor of Sanandaj and the other an unknown real estate agent — are among hopefuls registered for Iran’s presidential election next month.

Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, the former governor and now one of several vice presidents, and Iraj Isterki, who hails from the southern city of Khoramshahir and now makes his living as a real estate agent in Tehran, got their names in just before Saturday’s deadline for registration. Isterki has little more than a zero chance of endorsement by the Council of Guardians, which vets all candidates but grants permission to only a few, because he does not meet the two key qualifications of experience as a politician or senior government official.

Most of the more than 680 hopefuls are expected to be rejected by the Council.

Rahimi, who was born in 1949 of an Azeri father and Kurdish mother in the village of Serishabad in Iran’s Kurdistan province, managed to register his name through his lawyer only minutes before Saturday’s deadline.

Although he has a poor command of the Kurdish language, Rahimi has always played up his Kurdish identity.

Sardar Pishdari, an Iranian Kurd who currently lives in Britain, said he missed the deadline for a chance to throw his hat in the presidential ring. “I asked the Iranian embassy in France to send me the registration form, but they responded late,” he complained, adding that the embassy had said he must register in person at the Iranian interior ministry in Tehran.Rahimi, the most promising Kurdish candidate, was elected as a member of the Iranian parliament for three terms, starting in 1984. Following the 2009 elections, Rahimi was selected by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as his assistant.Kurdish political activists did not express excitement about Rahimi, with many complaining that he did not have a history of caring for Iran’s large Kurdish minority.“When he was the governor of Sanandaj and now as vice president, Rahimi, has done nothing for the Kurds,” said a Kurdish activist who asked to remain unnamed. The province of Sanandaj, or Sina in Kurdish, contains some of Iran’s most neglected and poorest regions.