Motahari discusses his resignation from the Majlis, accuses Presiding Board of acting illegally

Ali Motahari, the representative in Iran’s Majlis and a prominent Traditional-Principalist

Ali Motahari, the representative in Iran’s Majlis and a prominent Traditional-Principalist

Source: ILNADate: 25 October 2011

Ali Motahari, a representative in Iran’s Majlis [legislature] and a prominent Traditional-Principalist, discussed his recent resignation from the Majlis in an interview with ILNA. In the interview, Motahari talked about the petition he sponsored to bring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the Majlis for questioning, and expressed frustration with the Majlis Presiding Board for not executing the petition, explaining that they were legally bound to do so. He further outlined that the Presiding Board and pro-Ahmadinejad representatives had colluded to pressure representatives who had signed the petition to withdraw their signatures.

When asked by ILNA what good he believed resigning would do, Motahari responded:

“I am bound to do my duty…The result [of the petition] could be whatever, under the current circumstances nothing can be done, because [Majlis] representatives supporting the [Ahmadinejad] administration and the Presiding Board are pressuring the signers of this petition to take back their signatures, and even if we maintain the required number of signatures, this petition will still not be implemented. My resignation was a response to this behaviour.”

Motahari also framed his resignation as fulfilling his duty to his constituents. When asked by ILNA how he would be helping his constituents by resigning, he shot back:

“We must have a response for the people…the people must know whether we have naturally [willingly] retracted our votes and not under pressure. These issues must be clarified, even though I believe that besides the illegal actions of the Presiding Board there is no other reason for this issue [of the withdrawal of petition signatures]”

When asked by ILNA if he thought the pressure on petition signers had come about because of the opinion of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Motahari answered in the negative:

“The Supreme Leader clearly stated his position in Kermanshah, and said that he will in no way interfere with the work of the branches [of government]. Thus, this is a baseless claim, and from now on I doubt that the Leader would enter this arena [i.e. Majlis affairs]. It is better that they [the Presiding Board] not blame the Leader, this is solely the illegal action of the Presiding Board.”

Editor’s note: This last statement runs contrary to what Motahari said months ago in an interview with Khabar Online. In that interview he called the Majlis an extension of the Office of the Supreme Leader, implying that the Iranian legislature lacked true autonomy from Khamenei.

Motahari and the Traditional-Principalists have been consistent critics of Ahmadinejad, and taken a relatively soft stance toward Reformists and Pragmatists (supporters of ex-President Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani) who are facing elimination from the Islamic Republic’s political establishment. These stances have increasingly brought Traditional-Principalists under attack from hardliners, and as Motahari’s resignation indicates, it is unclear what real political future they will have in the Islamic Republic.