0645 GMT: This month has been marked by a series of telling exchanges about June's Presidential election.
The Supreme Leader put out the edict that, while the Islamic Republic's elections are always free, no one should speak of "free elections" because this would aid the enemy. Despite the warning, former Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami have continued to utter the troublesome two words.
Ayatollah Khamenei's representative with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said it was the "duty" of the Guards to "engineer" the election; the Guards, somewhat embarrassed, said they would not engineer an election for a particular candidate --- their "duty" was to ensure the largest possible participation in the vote.
All of this pointed to the central question, five months before the ballot: how can the highest levels of the regime declare free elections --- without, of course, saying "free elections" --- but ensure that the right man wins?
We now have an emerging answer. A committee of three men --- the Supreme Leader's top advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, and Gholam Haddad Adel, leading of the Principlist faction in Pa5rliament --- are speaking with leading politicians and clerics about a "unity" candidate.
While we have known of the committee for weeks, and while it is not exactly deep thinking to ascertain what they are seeking, it is interesting to see Velayati confirm the mission in a public interview --- albeit without quite saying "engineering" or "fixing".
A strong government is a collection of able individuals, who are directed by a strong manager. On this basis we three individuals comprising this coalition, who in the future election in the form of a single, harmonious and coordinated team, will offer ourselves and in truth, enter the electoral fray for people to vote for one team.
The Supreme Leader's aide added, "In our view no important political movement can be undertaken in the country without relation to the clergy."
We may not know for many weeks which man has been nominated, but the process indicates:
1) The Supreme Leader's camp and other leading regime figures wish to put down a marker versus rivals, notably President Ahmadinejad and his inner circle.
2) The committee is particularly concerned that the "hard-liners" of the Endurance Front, who emerged as a faction in 2012 with a list of candidates in the Parliamentary elections, are brought behind a single choice for President.
3) While the process is under way, Ahmadinejad's political foes --- notably Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani --- can continue criticism of the Government, but without making a head-on challenge such as open charges of corruption or a move for impeachment.
4) No one involved in the selection of the "unity" candidate will say "engineering" or "free elections".EA WorldView: EA Iran