Paris, 24 Jan. (IPS) With the date of next Legislative elections approaching in Iran, spokesmen for the reformist group say more than 70 per cent of their candidates have already been rejected by various electoral screening committees.
Alireza Afshar, a Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General who had been transferred to the Interior Ministry to supervise the elections, told journalists early this week that 40 per cent of the more than 7.200 candidates registered across Iran have various records with either the Intelligence Ministry or the Judiciary, meaning that they can be rejected from standing for election, due next March.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenehei showed the road to the massive rejection of reformist candidates when he labeled them as “puppets”, “mercenaries”, “agents of the enemy”.
According to Mr. Abdollah Naseri, the spokesman for the Coalition of the Reformists, the great majority of the candidates filed by the Iranian Islamic Participation Front (IIPF) and the Organisation of the Islamic Revolution’s Mojahedins (OIRM) have been rejected, including some former lawmakers and ministers.
For his part, Mr. Esma’il Germai Moqaddam, the spokesman for the National Confidence Party said not only the majority – 70 per cent, according to the Party’s official newspaper -- of the candidates presented by the party in various provinces have been disqualified, but also some of the independent candidates who have been backed by this organization.
Although the refused candidates have four days to protest, but most Iranian political analysts are of the opinion that since it is the megalomaniac and authoritarian Leader of the Islamic Republic who has ordered the ousting of the reformists, they have little chance to make their way into the next Majles (Iranian Parliament).
In a statement, the IIPF said the extend of rejections is unprecedented. “Ahmadinejad’s Government proved that no only it is incapable of administrating properly the country, but also organizing a fair and just elections”, the Party said, confirming that more than 3.000 candidates from reformists and other independent groups had been ruled out ineligible.
Mr. Sa’id Shari’ati, of the IIPF told the American news agency Associated Press that out of 200 candidates the Party had presented nationwide, 190 of them has been rejected.
Pro reform journalist and political commentator Isa Saharkhiz said Ayatollah Khamenehei would have the last word on who should go to the Majles and who should not.
“This point has been clear from the outset that the power-hungry wing, despite all its political and economic contradictions and dissentions, would ultimately gather under the umbrella of the Leader and at the end, it is Mr. Khamenehei who would say the last word concerning the conditions of the elections and the arrangements of the forces. In the meantime, the electoral farce’s twin, (Ayatollah Ahmad) Jannati (Secretary of the Council of the Guardians) and (Alireza) Afshar (Deputy Interior Minister) would only have their ears tended to the voice of the Leader, doing nothing against his wishes on political and religious grounds. In consequence, no matter the reformists and the evolutionists protests, no matter what they would say, nothing would change and the electoral doors would revolve on the same pivots as the past elections, if not worse, as it already looks like”, commented Mr. Isa Saharkhiz, a reformist journalist in the pro reform news and views internet site Akhbar Rouz of 23 January.
Actually, Ayatollah Ali Khamenehei showed the road to the “electoral game’s twin”, when he labeled the reformists as the “puppets”, “mercenaries”, “agents of the enemy”, accusing them of being “supported and praised” by the American President George W. Bush.
“These people, organizations and groups must be ashamed for having been backed by the American President. They must ask themselves what they have done to merit such a support from the enemy of the Islamic Republic?”, Mr. Khamenehei said, twisting Mr. Bush’s stated support not for the Iranian reformists alone, as claimed by the Iranian megalomaniac Leader, but “for all democratic and reform seeking forces, from Damascus to Beirut, from Baghdad to Tehran”.
His violent attack on the reformists was followed by a massive campaign in the media controlled by the conservatives and the Government of the fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spearheaded as usual by the hard line daily Keyhan, a mouthpiece of Mr. Khamenehei.
Taking into account that the abysmal unpopularity of the President has made an electoral fiasco by the conservatives almost inevitable, only a direct intervention from the powerful Leader could stop the victory of the reformists in the coming Majles elections.
Only a direct intervention from the powerful Leader could stop the victory of the reformists in the coming Majles elections.
In a letter to Mr. Khamenehei, the OIRM reminded him of one of his recent speeches in which he had urged all parties and especially the media to refrain from “dirty attacks” on the candidates, complained against the “bad behaviour” of the conservative’s controlled media towards the reformists, particularly Keyhan, “managed by a Representative of the Leader”, accused of “defamation”, “calumnies”, “insults” and “dirty attacks” against reformists, a campaign that becomes “more violent as the election day approaches”.
“The problem is that reformists do not want to accept that Mr. Khamenehei’s declarations are always one sided. When he urges all parties to withhold from dirty attacks, he means reformists media attacking the conservatives, not the other way, as it can be seen by the darts the hard line media launches against the reformists”, one journalist observed.
In a recent meeting with the core of the reformists, former moderate president Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami expressed concern about “depriving the nation from faithful, experienced and clean forces elements entering the race for eighth Majles”.
Nevertheless, the Government rejects forcefully all these accusations and critics, asking “why some insists on ignoring the laws, questioning fairness and cleanness of the electoral process and trying to push questionable people into the people’s House?”
At the core of the matter lies the electoral law in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In a report, the Committee for the Defence of Fair, Free, Healthy and Just Elections (CDFHJE) observed that the electoral laws of the ruling Mollahrchy are on many points not compatible with the standards of conventional free and fair elections elsewhere. Some of these points are as follows:
Mehdi Karroubi, leader of the National Confidence Party was the first to divide the ranks of the reformists.
- The mandatory approbation and vetting system of all candidates by the Leader-controlled, 12-members Council of the Guardians, a “selected body” which can reject any candidate without providing any explanation;
- Declaration by every candidate to have full faith and obedience to Islam, the sacred Islamic Republic, proclaiming fidelity to the Constitution and the progressive principle of the absolute rule of the Leader (velayate motlaqeh faqih) as conditions for being elected;
- Absence of any antecedent, particularly record of immorality, fornication, debauchery etc automatically prevents anyone from being elected;
- Relatives to and supporters of parties, groups, organizations that responsible authorities have declared them outlaw are not eligible etc…
A vicious and experienced manipulator, Mr. Khamenehei, with his intervention in the electoral battle, not only doomed reformists hopes for a come back, but at the same time pitted various reformists groups against each other, as seen by the attitude of Ayatollah Mehdi Karroubi, the leader of the National Confidence Party.
At the core of the matter lies the electoral laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran that are not compatible with standard elections elsewhere in the world.
In order to “save” his own candidates from debacle, Mr. Karroubi, a former Speaker nicknamed “the Chameleon”, delighted the conservatives by starting to criticize the Islamic Iran Participation Front’s attitude immediately after Mr. Khamenehei’s mouthpieces urged the reformists to publicly denounce Mr. Bush’s support and attack him for his “indecent and illegal act”.
Now that most of his candidates have been rejected, Mr. Karroubi has become a “golden headed wood”, a Persian proverb meaning someone considering himself being very intelligent but who loses on every level.
“The problem with the reformists is that they do not want to accept that in a system like that rules over Iran, one can not be credit worth by the people and by the regime at the same time. That they do not want to accept that water and fire can not coexist together. That they want to behave like the ostrich (shotor-morq, camel-bird in Farsi), to say they are a bird when asked to carry people and a camel when asked to lay eggs”, satirized one Iranian satirical columnist. ENDS ELECTIONS 24108