PARIS, 19 June (IPS) “The Iranian people do not seek radical changes, preferring smooth evolution of the situation”, observed Ebrahim Nabavi, a satirical writer and journalist commenting on the surprise outcome of the first round of presidential elections in Iran held on 17 June 2005.
Against all odds, predictions, opinion polls and expectations, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, the 49 years-old austere and pious Mayor of Tehran that few were paying attention to his presence in the race was proclaimed rival of the influential and seasoned politician Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the second tour, due next Friday 24 June.
How come that in less than an hour, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad jumped ahead of me
Immediately after the partial results were announced on the State-owned, conservatives-controlled Radio and Television by the Council of the Guardians, Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi, a former Speaker of the Majles, another candidate few had counted him of having any chance, denounced the results, as the Interior Ministry had given him as the being in second position.
“How come that in less than an hour, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad jumped ahead of me”, Asked the pro-reform cleric, charging the Revolutionary Guards and the Bassij militia of “illegal intervention” (in favour of the Mayor, himself a former officer of the Mullahrchy’s Praetorian Guards).
Mrs Elaheh Koola'i, the spokeswoman for Mr. Mo'in hinted that more than 300.000 guards and basij had spent 14 billion toumans (14 million US Dollars) in the elections.
The reaction from the Guards was sharp and blunt. “If Mr. Karroubi has any complaint, the law is here to show him the path. But instead of accusing the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij that make millions of people of this nation, he better, he better accept the realities of the vote and start at looking at his own door step”, the Guards warned in a statement released on Sunday, hinting that some daunting revelations about Mr. Karroubi's financial situation might come out, specially now that he has announced his resignation as an advisor to the leader .
Mohsen Sazegara, a veteran dissident now in a six months fellowship with the Washington Institute had warned before the elections that the leader had demanded a 60 per cent votes. "The results are 64 per cent of participation", he latter observed.
The predictions were that Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani would be trailed by either General Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the former Police Commander or Mr. Mostafa Mo’in, the candidate of the reformists, and possibly Mr. Ali Ardeshir Larijani, the former head of Iranian Radio and Television reported to be the “protégé” of the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i.
Contrary to other candidates who had widely adopted American style campaigning hiring young, beautiful “pom pom girls” handsome boys drapped with the names of candidates and roaming the streets on rollers, talking about relations with the United States or the nuclear energy, Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad, avoiding costly campaign, had concentrated on people’s daily problems,. “With their vote, the majority of Iranians showed that they don’t like the ruling hard liners or quick changes, with foreign intervention or in the form of a domestic upraising”, added Mr. Nabavi, confirming the view of many other analysts.
In fact, the relatively high number of voters going to the poll was a big defeat for Iranian dissidents, as many of the most respected and popular figures inside and outside had called for the boycott of elections they denounced as “selection”, as demonstrated with the intervention of Mr. Khameneh’i in favour of Mr. Mo’in and Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, both disqualified by the Council of the Guardians.
“The majority of the population is not happy with the present situation, but at the same time, they don’t wasn’t prepare the grounds for a foreign intervention, hence their refusal of boycotting the race. At the same time, they reject a reform process that creates problems, preferring to see this situation changed slowly for the better, bringing them more freedoms in all aspects of their life”, Mr. Nabavi concluded.
The man who symbolises such kind of smooth transformation of the society is obviously Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, hence calls from leading journalists and some pro-reform political formations, like the Organisation of Islamic Revolution Mojahedeen (OIRM) that had backed Mr. Mo’in, who scored a poor fifth position in the race.
In fact, the relatively high number of voters going to the poll was a big defeat for Iranian dissidents.
“Unfortunately, the clear and well-organised intervention of some military organs that have nation-wide organisations and using large sum of the people’s money days before the election’s day in support of some of the most radical and extremist anti-reform factions changed the picture of the elections”, the OIRM said in a statement released by the official news agency IRNA on Sunday.
Calling on all freedom and democracy loving forces to back massively Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani in the second round, the influential organisation continued, explaining that “the unexplainable difference between the results and all predictions based on sound opinion surveys clearly demonstrates the well-panned, well-orchestrated and directed campaign of some forces that are against freedom, democracy and independence, forces that do not tolerate the presence of other ideas and opinions, factions that regards the reformists and dissidents as agents of foreigners and democracy and freedom as a western import, groups that wants to impose their extremist views for changing the Islamic Republic in an Islamic State”.
Observing that the votes that went to pro-reform and independent candidates overwhelms those obtained by the pro-conservative runners,
Mr. Mohammad Qouchani, the Editor of the independent daily “Sharq” also urged all Iranians to back the Chairman of the Expediency Council, warning in particular the pro-reform forces to stop their differences and vote for Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani “if you don’t want the country be ruled by one ideological group that heralds dark days for the nation”.
It seems that he was heard, as Mr. Mo’in and his supporters, mostly the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the largest political formation led by Dr Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the outgoing President also announced their backing for Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Though Mr. Khameneh’i has stated publicly that “whoever becomes president, we vote for the preservation of the system”, but analysts agrees that “if the leaders bends towards a candidate, he would for sure come out of the ballots boxes”.
“The equation is very simple: Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani is considered as a rival to the leader while Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad is a dedicated Muslim, son of the Islamic revolution and a trusted, faithful yes man of the leader”, one analyst commented. ENDS IRAN ELECTIONS 19605