© IRNAFormer Iranian President Hassan Rohani
Former Iranian President Hassan Rohani has issued a stern rebuke of the country's Guardians Council following his disqualification from elections to the Assembly of Experts earlier this year, accusing the body of undermining the role and freedom of future presidents.

Rohani said in a statement:
"The disqualification notice was as an indictment against the institution of the presidency that signals a 'crisis' for political independence in Iran.

"What is mentioned in the letter from the secretary of the Guardians Council as the reasons for my disqualification is not only not a crime, but in some cases, I consider it an honor."
Rohani criticized the council for charging him with "insulting the judiciary and the Guardians Council," "a lack of political insight," "nonadherence to the constitution," and "an assault on genuine religious beliefs."

The 88-member Assembly of Experts, founded in 1982, appoints and can dismiss the supreme leader, but rarely intervenes directly in policymaking.

The March elections Rohani was barred from were considered more significant than usual given Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 84 and could be succeeded during the new eight-year term that council members started this year.

In his statement, Rohani gave a sharp critique of the qualifications of the Guardians Council's jurists, challenging their legitimacy and expertise by asking:
"Which elections and with the vote of which nation have these jurists earned the right to deprive the elected representatives of the people of their right to choose?"
He further accused them of lacking political, security, and diplomatic experience, and questioned their capability to evaluate candidates based on political knowledge.

The Guardians Council, consisting of six jurists appointed by the Supreme Leader and six legal scholars selected by the judiciary, has substantial influence over election candidates. Ahmad Jannati, 97, currently serves as the secretary of the council.

Rohani said his disqualification letter was a refusal by the Guardians Council to tolerate "the presence of an independent and critical movement in the sixth term of the Assembly of Experts."

The former president also said his disqualification came because of the 2015 nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that he negotiated with world powers. He defended the agreement saying it "was approved by the leader after tens of hours of discussion in the Supreme National Security Council."

The accord collapsed in 2018 when then-U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed crippling sanctions that have battered Iran's economy and its currency.

Rohani warned:
"Future presidents "must know that with this decision, they no longer even have political freedom, are unable to perform their legal duties, and, instead of the constitution, must follow the Guardians Council."
Analysts and activists have said the March 1 elections were "engineered" because only candidates vetted and approved by the Guardians Council were allowed to run.

Official statistics released by the Interior Ministry revealed that voter turnout exceeded 50 percent in only eight of the country's 31 provinces.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent political activist currently incarcerated in Tehran's Evin prison, described the vote as a "historic failure" for the country's leaders that was directly attributable to Khamenei, whose policies have sparked widespread public discontent with the Islamic republic.