ELECTIONS IN IRAN ARE NOT FREE OR DEMOCRATIC

PARIS 3 Feb. (IPS) "There are many elections in Iran, but in the true term of the word, they are far from being democratic ones," according to Dr. Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, an outspoken lawyer and former Member of the Majles.

"We have had many elections, no doubt about it, probably more than in other nations, but in the form only, having been emptied of their democratic contain by the ruling powers", he explained during an interview with the newly created, 24-hours Farsi-speaking Radio Farda (Tomorrow) based in Prague, operated by the American government.

He was referring to the Iranian clerical rulers’ claim that their theocratic system is the "freest and most democratic" in the world because of the number of elections they have organised since the creation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, more than 25 in all.

"Unfortunately, the discourse of democracy in Iran has become a tragic tale, for, anytime they (clerical rulers) are facing the foreigners, they make a political use of the number of elections, but when we want to talk about the content of them, they respond that we are in the system of velayat faqih, a regime in which the appointed institutions are choking increasingly the political space to the elected organs", he pointed out.

Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di, who is also a professor at the Tehran and Shiraz universities, said the existence of several "filters", the most important of them being the Council of the Guardians, leaves no place for democratic elections in Iran.

The 12-members Council, originally created to prevent the authorities imposing their candidates to the people, has bestowed to itself a controversial right with which they reject any candidate they consider not fit. The leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, appoints six of the 12 members of the Council.

He said even if the CG is cooperative, the leader himself can stop the Parliament from passing laws, and cited as example a controversial press law that was rejected by the CG, invoking a statement by Mr. Khameneh'i.

"Not on the leader intervenes with the parliamentarian affairs, but he can easily dismiss a president who had been elected with 80 per cent of the votes of the people", Mr. Sho’leh Sa’di pointed out, repeating that in such a regime, one can not speak about free, democratic elections and system, in which voters can exercise control over elected organs.

"But unfortunately, this is not the case in present Iranian regime", he concluded. ENDS 5203