PARIS, 3 June (IPS) Prince Reza Pahlavi joined his voice to other Iranian dissidents inside and outside Iran to urge Iranians not to participate in the coming presidential elections and do not give popular legitimacy a "discredited regime".
“With more than 20 million votes, (outgoing President) Mohammad Khatami was not able to implement his reform program, what can a Hashemi Rafsanjani do, a man who is also very unpopular?”, the 45 years-old son of the late Iranian Monarch observed during a press conference held in Paris on 2 June on the invitation of the French-American Press Association, referring to reports giving the Chairman of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as the possible winner in the elections, due on 17 June 2005.
It is not important who is president, because what the ruling establishment is after is preserving the regime
In his view, more than 65 per cent of the voters would abstain from going to the polls, a percentage confirmed by several opinion surveys, some of them realised by the government, including the Interior and the Intelligence ministries.
“It is not important who is president, but what the ruling establishment is after is preserving the regime. By the same token, they want to lure the West by presenting elections as meaning freedom and democracy. This is exactly the opposition is determined to resist by urging the people to support the idea of referendum”, he told journalists.
In a “Manifesto for Republicanism” published ten days ago, Mr. Akbar Ganji, an outspoken dissidents sentenced to ten years of imprisonment observed that under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, real powers are in the hands of the leader, the revolutionary guards, the Judiciary, the Council of the Guardians or the Expediency Council, all non-elected organs in which the president, “a manager”, has no role.
“Eight years of Khatami’s presidency showed that the first choice of the people is nothing more than an intendant, as Mr. Khatami himself realised. The problem in Iran is not who become president or even elections are fair and free or not, but it is the system that needs to be reformed”, said Mr. Naser Zarafshan, a prominent lawyer sentenced to five years of imprisonment for taking the defence of the families of the victims of the November 1998 “Serial murders”.
“The passages to democracy needs the people’s no cooperation with the regime and by not collaborating, help to delegitimise the system”, Mr. Ganji, who is on a short leave for medical treatments, wrote, adding that insisting on a national referendum under international observation can help bring a smooth change of the present theocracy.
In echo to Mr. Ganji and Mr. Zarafshan, Mr. Pahlavi said “boycotting the elections is in itself a kind of referendum, one that sends a clear signal to the international community that the Iranians do not give legitimacy to a regime the majority of them reject”, he said.
Asked by journalists if he is after the restoration of monarchy to Iran or sees himself as an alternative to the present regime, he repeated that this is not his aim at this stage.
The nature of the Iranian regime must be decided by the people
“The nature of Iranian regime must be decided by the people. What we want for now is a free, democratic, secular regime having good relations with all nations and respected by the international community”, he pointed out, adding that “this is what all the opposition must fight for, not waiting to see what the United States is going to do or what France would do”.
Mr. Pahlavi said he is against foreign intervention in Iran. “Any change of regime should come from the people, not others’, he said.
Asked about the controversial Iranian nuclear activities, the subject of perilous negotiations with European Troika and American-Israeli suspicion that the ruling ayatollahs are developing an atomic bomb Mr. Pahlavi, like the majority of his countrymen, defended, albeit indirectly, the right of Iran to have nuclear power for civilian uses, saying with Iran under a democratic regime respectful of international laws, “there is no reason to fear a nuclearised Iran”. ENDS IRAN ELECTIONS 3605