Saturday, July 02, 2005

Xinhua - English

Xinhua - English: "Ahmadinejad plays class, religion cards to win Iran's presidential election 2005-07-01 08:43:15
TEHRAN, July 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The shock raised by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's unexpected triumph in the presidential election has faded away, and local analysts, who have soon recovered from the stun, have begun probing into the reasoning cause of the dark horse's success.

Ahmadinejad has excellently played the "class card" and "religion card" since the country is seeing increasingly wider gap between the rich and the poor, said the analysts.

The run-off between humble-looking Ahmadinejad and his alleged wealthy rival, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been viewed by analysts as a contest between different social classes they represent.

Before the run-off voting on June 24, public opinion polls all pointed favorably to Rafsanjani, who had been the front runner of the race for months.

Rafsanjani was hailed due to his pragmatic minds in both domestic and diplomatic affairs and newly adopted open attitude toward the youth.

The former president was generally supported by the middle and upper classes, which could be vaguely classified into the congregation of "rich people" according to the sociological paradigm of Iran.

The rich people, having obtained freedom from worries over bread and shelter, are looking forward to the freedom in social meaning. They backed the rumor-riddled Rafsanjani just because they disagreed with Ahmadinejad to a greater extent.

However, a large number of the rich, deeply dissatisfied with the current situation, refused to vote in the two rounds of elections, which weakened Rafsanjani and other reformist candidates.

On the other hand, Ahmadinejad is warmly loved by the country'spoor people, who account for a much greater part of Iran's population and were convinced of the claim that the humble-lookingblacksmith's son could lead them to a better life.

Moreover, Ahmadinejad promised to reallocate the huge profit ofoil in the campaign, which many people said will benefit just someinterest groups for now.

He termed the move as his first battle to promote social justice. Such a pledge has been proven to be more attractive than the empty slogan of "social justice" shouted by other conservativecandidates.

The poor, especially those in remote countryside, had few chances to show their appreciation of Ahmadinejad in various polls,but they had ballots. This is an important factor ignored before but discovered after the election by many analysts and predictors.

Ahmadinejad's another hunk share of votes came from loyal religious people, who have already been extremely intolerant of the loosening of some religious restrictions upon people's life bythe outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami during the past eight years.

The conservative religious Iranians expect a hardliner to drag the country's atmosphere back to the fundamentalist stage. Ahmadinejad's ultra-conservative image built up during his term ofoffice as Tehran mayor and his slogan of defending the Islamic laws and morals during the campaign made him popular among the conservatives and favored by top mullahs in the country.

The victory of Ahmadinejad indeed revealed a fact that the ultra-conservative politics still enjoy a considerable market in the Islamic Republic, which analysts said should not be ignored inthe future.

The successful play of class card and religion card at a critical juncture of time has brought an unknown mayor to the postof president.

It has provoked the contemplations on Iran's true situation andthe Iranian people's real want, a more vivid picture veiled from the world by inaccurate and inadequate presentation of media.

However, the president-elect cannot rely on these two cards after his assumption of power because the image of pauper hero andapologist is far from enough to be a good president.

The lucky man, as local media termed, shoulders more expectations now, stressed the analysts."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Rafsanjani supports elected Iran president

Rafsanjani supports elected Iran president: "Rafsanjani supports elected Iran president
TEHRAN, June 26 (UPI) -- Defeated Iranian presidential candidate Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Sunday urged Iranians to support president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran's nuclear program won't change (June 26, 2005) -- Iran said Sunday its nuclear program and strategy would not change with the election of new hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Foreign ... > full story

Loser in Iran will not appeal results (June 25, 2005) -- Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani blames his overwhelming loss in Iran's presidential runoff on an organized and illegal effort by the ... > full story

Hardline Tehran mayor as Iran president (June 25, 2005) -- Tehran's hardline mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani becoming Iran's president with the backing of ... > full story

Iran closes vote-critical newspapers (June 21, 2005) -- Clerics in Iran on Tuesday suspended publication of three newspapers because their editors criticized last week's presidential elections. Three ... > full story

Iran ex-president to face Tehran mayor (June 19, 2005) -- The former president of Iran is set to face off against the mayor of Tehran in a runoff presidential election next week. Working-class Mayor Mahmoud ... > full story

In a message to the people, the former Iraqi president from 1989 to 1997 said he hoped the new president will handle his responsibilities successfully and to fulfill his promises, calling on all to help Ahmadinejad "for the service of the people."

The Tehran mayor defeated the more moderate Rafsanjani in Friday's run-off.

Meanwhile, the president-elect received cables of congratulations from Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Morocco's King Mohammad VI, prince of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as from Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved."

Friday, June 24, 2005

Bitter remarks close Iran runoff campaign - The Boston Globe - - Middle East - News

Bitter remarks close Iran runoff campaign - The Boston Globe - - Middle East - News: "Bitter remarks close Iran runoff campaign
Abuse of power, vigilantism alleged in presidential race
By Karl Vick, Washington Post | June 23, 2005

TEHRAN -- Campaigning for the runoff that will decide Iran's next president ended last night in a flurry of bitter exchanges between campaigns that disagree profoundly on the direction of the theocracy.

Backers of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the two-term former president, held a half-dozen rallies in Tehran. At one raucous event, they warned that Rafsanjani's opponent in tomorrow's election, Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would reverse social freedoms and embolden Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guard and militias.

Former Tehran mayor Gholam Hossein Karbaschi alleged that vigilantes in the holy city of Qom had roughed up an ayatollah who supported Rafsanjani.

''If they acted like that with clergy in Qom, what will they do to ordinary people?" Karbaschi said.

Across the street, Ahmadinejad supporters sat in respectful silence as they listened to speakers in a theater segregated by sex -- men on the ground floor, women in the balcony dressed in black chadors, a tent-like covering.

''They've got nothing to do with Islam," lawmaker Ali Khoshchehre said of Rafsanjani's supporters, who include the reformist establishment led by outgoing President Mohammad Khatami. ''They are using power and wealth to ruin the reputation of their rival. Everybody knows it's not Islamic. It's not competition, it's a kind of jealousy. They're jealous of our candidate and his popularity.

''You should look carefully around you, and know your enemy," Khoshchehre advised.

Ahmadinejad, 49, urges a return to the selfless, religious commitment of the 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed shah and established Iran as a republic governed by clerics, who hold the self-appointed positions that rank above the presidency.

His campaign rebroadcast yesterday on television a deft, half-hour film that showed the mayor in meetings and crowds, where he appeared to be a cheerful public servant with a common touch and a modest middle-class home.

But in an unsubtle dig at the ruling political class that includes Rafsanjani, who is a millionaire, the film opened with a tour of the home of Tehran's last mayor, lingering around the swimming pool, sauna, and marble staircases.

''What we need is justice," Ahmadinejad said in the video. ''We ask the officials now, 'Why are you residing in palaces? Why do you work in palaces?'

''They say because we are trying to keep the prestige of our country. Where did you get this? What you are saying cannot be found in Islamic sources."

Rafsanjani, 70, billed as a ''pragmatic conservative," has cast himself in the campaign as a seasoned businessman, wily negotiator, and the only figure with the stature to confront hard-line clerics holding Iran back from the changes necessary to prosper economically and renew ties with the United States.

''We should not be frozen in the past," read a Rafsanjani banner strung across a main street in the capital yesterday.

At least one opinion poll showed Rafsanjani with a narrow lead over Ahmadinejad, who surprised many analysts by qualifying for the runoff after coming in second last week.

One candidate in the first round, Mahdi Karrubi, has charged that Ahmadinejad's strong finish was engineered by some Revolutionary Guard commanders and militiamen.

At a news conference Tuesday, Karrubi joined other reformists in urging a large turnout tomorrow.

Rafsanjani campaign officials said their candidate would need a high turnout to overcome the hard-line loyalists who are all but certain to show up at the polls for Ahmadinejad."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran gears up for tense run-off

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran gears up for tense run-off: "Iran gears up for tense run-off

Friday's vote is seen as having huge implications for Iran's future
Heated campaigning is under way in Iran ahead of an unprecedented presidential election run-off on Friday.
Iranians are being urged to vote in what is shaping up to be a straight fight between reformers and hardliners.

Conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came a surprise second place behind former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in last week's poll.

The reformist Interior Ministry has warned the run-off is in greater danger of being rigged than the first round.

On Monday, the Guardian Council, in charge of the election, dismissed claims of vote-rigging in last Friday's poll after carrying out a partial recount of 100 ballot boxes in four cities.

But the number of boxes recounted is just a tiny fraction of the overall total and does not include remote rural areas where fraud might be easier, correspondents say.

'Cast vote wisely'

Moderates, who last week were urging a boycott of the presidential election, have now called on people to back "pragmatic conservative" cleric Mr Rafsanjani in the run-off.

Student leader Sajjad Ghoroghi said activists were going out across the country to campaign against the unashamedly hardline Mr Ahmadinejad.


Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani - 21%
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - 19.5%
Mehdi Karroubi - 17.3%
Source: Iranian interior ministry

Press takes stock

"We will be fighting hard across the country to defeat him," he said, according to the Associated Press.

Reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, who narrowly lost out on second place, told voters: "Don't be hopeless, cast your votes wisely for the sake of Islam, Iran and to fight backwardness and power-seeking."

And outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami also gave his implicit backing to Mr Rafsanjani by urging people to vote for "moderation" and against "reactionaries".

Reformers fear Mr Ahmadinejad will fill all government posts with hardliners, role back the social reform process and take a far more anti-western stance than Mr Rafsanjani.

'Touched hearts'

But analysts say Mr Ahmadinejad's campaign has won support from many of Iran's religious poor who have lost faith in Mr Rafsanjani.

"We can identify with him. His style is humble and not luxurious," stallholder Mehdi Nasrollahi was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying.

Does it really matter who becomes the next president when literally, he won't have any power?

Mr Ahmadinejad's team are optimistic of his chances on Friday.

"We will win the run-off," close aide Naser Qomian said. "Iranians have felt Ahmadinejad in their hearts. Iranians are fed up with Rafsanjani, who did little to improve the life of the poor."

Allegations of dirty tricks continue to surround the election, with the reformist-controlled Interior Ministry warning that it would not be able to control voting malpractice on Friday.

The ministry said that days before the first round unnamed "institutions whose job is to protect people, organised and orchestrated" the vote.

They were referring to the Islamic militia groups whose members were allegedly mobilised to support the hardliners' favourite candidate.

"They might do it again and even stronger this time... We will do our best to confront that," said Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani.

"Some people in order to stay in power, are ready to do anything to deviate the election," he added."

Iran News - Voters asked to help check radicalism

Iran News - Voters asked to help check radicalism: "Voters asked to help check radicalism

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 - ©2005
LONDON, June 21 (IranMania) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani issued a communique and thanked the people for their massive turnout in the June 17 presidential election, urging them to show up in large numbers in the second round in order to check radicalism, according to Iran Daily.

Part of the communique read, "I thank the people who gloriously showed up at the polling stations and placed trust in me as one of the candidates of the first round " What was expected, along with the notion of public participation in the election, was correct campaign activities, which unfortunately did not happen and contaminated the election due to the organized interference of some groups. " I hereby urge related officials to immediately attend to the complaints raised so far in a fair manner and also pay heed to the complaint raised by my brother, Mehdi Karroubi, about the results of certain provinces."

Rafsanjani also said the same line of thought that blamed the late Imam Khomeini for the death of people who gave their blood for the wellbeing of the Islamic Revolution has now engaged in demagoguery and insists that its faulty ideology complies with genuine Islam.

"My electoral manifesto remains the same. My focus will be on removal of poverty from the face of the country, creating social justice, procuring sociopolitical freedoms, observance of women's rights, generating new jobs and pursuing new ways for active interaction with the outside world," he said.

Meanwhile, head of the Council for National-Religious Activists, Ezzatollah Sahabi said all groups and individuals should vote for Rafsanjani in the second round.

"Even those who boycotted the election (in the first round) should vote for Rafsanjani," he said.

In related news, Spokesman of Iranian Hezbollah Mojtaba Bigdeli said the governing atmosphere is contaminated and some wish to defame Rafsanjani in an unprecedented manner.

"Some people mistakenly claim that Rafsanjani is the enemy of the people of Iran and that his rival is immaculate. But we believe that they both are children of the Islamic Revolution. We believe that we need Rafsanjani for the country to advance further," he said."

DEBKAfile - Rafsanjani Mulls Quitting Presidential Race

DEBKAfile - Rafsanjani Mulls Quitting Presidential Race: " Rafsanjani Mulls Quitting Presidential Race

DEBKAfile’s Exclusive Report from Tehran
June 21, 2005, 1:22 PM (GMT+02:00)
21 June: By Monday night, June 20, rumors were swirling around Tehran that Iran’s non-elected strongman, Ayatollah Ali Khameni had found a way of rigging the presidential election. Round one took place last Friday, June 17, and the run-off is scheduled for Friday, June 24. The favorite, former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, barely pulled ahead of a contestant who popped up out of the blue, the extremist Tehran mayor Mahmud Ahmadinez. He faces him again on Friday.

Rafsanjani, speaking of a “tarnished” election, was not alone. The Guardian Council was forced by more such accusations to allow a recount of 100 randomly selected vote boxes in between rounds.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian experts maintain that “spiritual ruler” Khameini would never have left the presidential election to chance. A special brew must have been cooked up in his bureau for a near nonentity like Ahmadinez to pick up 5.7 million votes compared with the charismatic former president Rafsanjani’s 6.1 million ballots.

Reformist candidate Dr. Mostafa Mo-In, who came in fifth, accused the all-powerful body of spending millions to mobilize hundreds of thousands of Islamic militiamen to get a hardliner president voted in. By any true standards, Mo-In should have done much better in a country where half the electorate is under 30 and pining for a better life and democratic liberties.

Another complainer was former majlis speaker Hojjat-ol Eslam Mahdi Karrubi, a reformist candidate widely expected to place second. He was blunter than Mo-In, charging a general call-up had been arranged on voting day for Revolutionary Guards officers, men and reservists who were sent to cast their ballots for the Tehran mayor. Another failed candidate, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a former commander of Iran’s internal security forces, leveled a similar charge.

But none of the candidates were let into a critical secret, revealed here by DEBKAfile’s sources: Khamenei surreptitiously instructed all the religious leaders, heads of medressas, seminaries and Islamic revolutionary bodies to throw their combined weight behind Ahmadinez and not spread their votes among the other six candidates.

The message was carried by the extremist senior cleric Ayatollah Mohammaed Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, the religious authority behind the Iranian fatwa that automatically sentences political opponents of the Islamic regime to death.

The enigma remains of why the spiritual ruler picked the colorless Tehran mayor over the other conservative candidates as his favorite, when none of the field was exactly left-wing liberals? Why humiliate his longtime close friend, ally and adviser Rafsanjani?

The answer may be found in Ahmadinez’s campaign speeches. He constantly harped on such phrases as: we did not fight a revolution for the sake of democracy. We must stifle at birth every voice challenging the revolution. We must mobilize as one man to support the spiritual ruler and obey him. To those who would offer Iran to America on a silver tray, we say: We will never let this happen!

These sentiments chime closely with the advice Khamenei has been receiving from his close advisers. They have been telling him he must intensify the crackdown against internal dissenters straight after the elections. They warn that the laxness and liberal ways practiced by the outgoing president Mohammed Khatami in his eight years in office have brought the country to the verge of civil rebellion. This must be stifled before it gets out of hand.

This same inner circle - radical clerics and ambitious Revolutionary Guards commanders - is pressing for a greater share in government and important state decisions, so as to sustain the country’s advances on the development of nuclear arms and long-range missiles. Khamenei’s power as unelected spiritual ruler depends heavily on the support of these two groups.

The man they want in the presidency is the tough-minded, stern Ahmadinez. They believe they can count on him to further harden the Islamic republic’s posture on nuclear weapons and intensify its sponsorship of Islamic terrorism worldwide.

While aware that Rafsanjani also advocates an Iranian nuclear bomb and favors support for terrorist organizations, Western governments believe he is pragmatic and flexible enough to appreciate that the Islamic regime requires a sensible balance of its interests. They hope therefore that, out of a stable of conservatives, he will be elected president. With him they can do business on both issues in return for generous economic incentives. Domestically too, he is expected to preserve the limited civil liberties granted by Khatami.

DEBKAfile’s Iranian experts postulate two alternative motives for Khamenei’s abrupt desertion of his ally Rafsanjani:

Either Khamenei engineered a stunning victory his old friend Rafsanjani in the second round and therefore chose a colorless contestant to run against him.

Or, Khamenei never trusted his close ally Rafsanjani’s ambitions and found a way to bring him low once and for all by encouraging him to run as favorite candidate. Above all, he fears Rafsanjani may decide to amend the Islamic constitution to limit the spiritual ruler’s authority and powers. The candidate recently remarked he was willing to let the constitution be amended to meet opposition demands.

The outcome of the run-off next Friday will indicate which of the two theories fits the facts, as well as pointing to the path the Islamic republic has chosen to follow in the next stage of its history. But if Rafsanjani decides to back down and quit the race at the last ditch, that too will betray his conviction that the spiritual ruler has stacked the chips against him and he has chosen to avoid a second humiliation."

7DAYS - Students backing Rafsanjani

7DAYS - Students backing Rafsanjani: "Students backing Rafsanjani
Written by 7DAYS | Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Iran's main student group dropped its presidential election boycott yesterday and told its supporters to vote for pragmatist cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (below) to block a hardline candidate.

The Office to Consolidate Unity, had told its supporters that voting would only endorse a system controlled by hardline clerics, made a sharp u-turn after Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, linked to the hardline Revolutionary Guard and Basij religious paramilitaries, made it through to a second round run-off with Rafsanjani scheduled for Friday.

"Pro-reform students have decided to back Rafsanjani to prevent the establishment of a totalitarian system if Ahmadinejad wins the vote," student leader Sajjad Ghoroghi told Reuters." / Middle East & Africa - Tehran's mayor has Rafsanjani on defensive / Middle East & Africa - Tehran's mayor has Rafsanjani on defensive: "Middle East & Africa

Tehran's mayor has Rafsanjani on defensive
By Gareth Smyth in Tehran
Published: June 21 2005 03:00 | Last updated: June 21 2005 03:00

Since he became mayor of Tehran two years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has not taken a holiday. He drives an old Peugeot, prays regularly and lives a simple life.

On Friday Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, 49, takes on a leading figure of Iran's Islamic republic, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 71, in a run-off ballot to decide the next president.

Mr Rafsanjani's camp says the choice is between a pragmatist who believes in dialogue with the west and private enterprise, and a hard-line xenophobe who dislikes foreign investment.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's strategy is to portray himself as a "Man of the People" - a sharp contrast to the life style Mr Rafsanjani and his family are alleged to lead. Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's supporters say he is a "fundamentalist", a man true to the egalitarianism of Iran's the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Rafsanjani camp is taking no chances: for the election's second round, the campaign has jettisoned mixed parties and loud street music, which they used to attract younger voters but which alienated many in conservative Iran.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's supporters have rebutted the charge that their patron opposes the private sector, stressing Tehran council's contracts with Chinese companies for the new metro, its $200m (€243m, £133m) international loan to renovate old Tehran, and its talks with European companies on projects such as waste management.

They emphasise that Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's sober attitude to running city hall is a model for running Iran. The atmosphere is focused - and clearly Islamic. There is calligraphy on the walls and women staff wear chadors, the head-to-toe covering.

Mehdi Chamran, the council's chairman, says the mayor's main achievements are "scientific management" of the city's first development plan for 37 years and his "links with the people".

With the revolution, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad joined the Basij, an Islamic militia, and worked as an engineer in the 1980-88 war with Iraq. His administrative talents led to posts in the west and north-west until, in the late 1990s he became governor-general of the northern province of Ardabil. Like many, he was frustrated at what he saw as weakening commitment to the revolution's ideals.

In the run-up to Tehran's 2003 municipal elections, a group of fundamentalists formed Abadgaran ('Developers'), a list to challenge a council paralysed by in-fighting and corruption allegations. The poll ended a run of reformist victories in Iran. In 2004 fundamentalists nationwide took a similar approach to Abadgaran and won control of parliament after the disqualification of many reformist candidates."

The Hindu : International : Reformers rally behind Rafsanjani

The Hindu : International : Reformers rally behind Rafsanjani: "

Date:21/06/2005 URL:

Reformers rally behind Rafsanjani
Atul Aneja
Electorate polarised ahead of run-off poll scheduled for Friday "Iran faces the threat of fascism if anti-reform faction gains strength"

TEHERAN: Threatened by the possibility of hardliners taking over the Presidency, Iran's reformers are rallying behind the centrist cleric Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani before Friday's run-off elections.

The first round of polling showed ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad emerging as the challenger to Mr. Rafsanjani. The two will contest the second round of elections as none out of the seven candidates could poll the mandatory 50 per cent votes necessary to avoid the run-off. Mr. Ahmadinejad, linked to the frontline Revolutionary Guard forces and religious paramilitary Basij, got 5.7 million votes, while Mr. Rafsanjani was narrowly ahead with 6.1 million.

The leading reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), said people had to vote to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad, from becoming President. "Now the country faces the danger of direct involvement by military parties," its statement said.

Another reformist party, the Islamic Revolution Mujahideen Organisation (IRMO), led by Behzad Nabavi, also declared its backing for Mr. Rafsanjani, disregarding its past differences with him. It said Iran faced the threat of fascism and cited the "orchestrated involvement of military bodies and entities ... in favour of the most radical anti-reform faction."

Meddling in poll alleged

Contrary to predictions, Mostafa Moin, the IIPF backed candidate ended up in fifth place, behind the former Speaker, Mehdi Karroubi, and Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

Elahe Koulaei, spokeswoman for Mr. Moin had earlier said Basij had tampered with the vote, while Mr. Karroubi, in an open letter sought Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's intervention after accusing "sections of the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij" of meddling with the polls.

The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) later said two Iranian reformist newspapers were banned from appearing on Monday after they published Mr. Karroubi's letter.

Mr. Qalibaf who finished fourth in the first round is also expected to announce his support for Mr. Rafsanjani — a move that is likely to see the emergence of a pro-reform front.

Reformists have been alarmed by Mr. Ahmadinejad's challenge as they see their influence within the political system receding rapidly. They have already lost their hold over Parliament in the previous election, and the unelected Guardian Council, seen as the second most powerful body after the Supreme Leader's office, has blocked several pro-reform initiatives of outgoing President Mohammad Khatami.

Fancying their chances, Mr. Ahmadinejad's supporters have also started rallying behind him. Hardline candidate Ali Larijani, a former head of state television who finished sixth in the first round, said he would support Mr. Ahmadinejad.

The Society for Islamic Revolution Sacrificers also declared its support for the former Mayor, deepening the polarisation in politics. .

© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu"

POLITICS-IRAN: Reformers Struggle to Beat Back Hardliner By Whine After They Lose

POLITICS-IRAN: Reformers Struggle to Beat Back Hardliner: "POLITICS-IRAN:
Reformers Struggle to Beat Back Hardliner
Saloumeh Peyman

TEHRAN, Jun 20 (IPS) - Iran's defeated reform candidates and their backers are warning of "fascist footsteps approaching" after a hard-line choice beat them out for a place in this week's run-off presidential election.

The 4.7 million votes received by Tehran Mayor Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad, about 20 percent of around 29 million votes cast Friday, has shocked many middle-class Iranians. He finished secondly only to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is known as a supporter of the status quo.

The two will face-off in a second vote on Friday.

The defeat of Mostafa Moa'n, the leading reform candidate in the eight-man field, was an unexpected blow to his backers, who saw him running close behind Rafsanjani before polls opened Friday. IPS phoned several of Moa'n's campaigns officers after the results came in, but found all of them too disappointed to talk in length.

Esa Sahr Khiz, the reformist journalist who headed the Moa'n campaign, released a statement attributing the defeat to the "conspiracy of militia and vigilante groups". Moa'n and a second reform candidate, Mahdi Karrubi, issued separate statements to warn Iranians "fascism's footsteps can be heard".

The reformist camp is now desperately trying to bring at least 12 million votes to Rafsanjani, as the supporters of two other defeated hard-line candidates are urging their sympathizers to vote for Ahmadinedjad, whose base is a nationwide network of mosques, vigilante groups and Basij (volunteer forces) militia..

Many supporters of Karrubi, the former speaker who finished third with less than four million votes, took to downtown streets near the former U.S. embassy Saturday night to protest what they called "Basij militia and vigilantes' direct involvement in polling, (vote) rigging or vote manipulation".

In an open letter to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, on Saturday, Karrubi resigned his position on the State Expediency Council as a protest against what he called a "coup d'etat-like plot" for buying votes by (a) part of the revolutionary guard corps and the Basij.

Interestingly, Rafsanjani endorsed Karrubi's protest and warned, "an extremist reading of Islam is emerging in Iranian politics".

But one frustrated analyst and backer of current President Mohamad Khatami told (Persian news service) that while "Khatami received 42 million votes in two four-year terms due to his integrity, honesty and merits, the two claimants of reformism, Moa'n and Karrubi, together could not receive more than four million votes, therefore the new claimants of reform did not deserve the votes of the people."

The Rafsanjani camp is predicting a gloomy future in the event that Ahmadinedjad becomes president, for example spreading the rumour that he will segregate public parks (for men and women) and bury the remains of the soldiers killed in the eight-year war against Iraq in public places.

Some analysts believe such a strategy will succeed and will spur a vote shift toward Rafsanjani among the middle class.

"Honestly speaking, although I hate Rafsanjani too, I might vote for him to ward off the danger of Ahmadinedjad's presidency. I am sure the mayor will put us under 'chador' (the full-length dark veil)," said Ziba Shirzad, 24, an electronics engineer who boycotted the first round of voting.

Friday's result was a blow to activists who urged Iranians not to vote, in hopes that such an act would accelerate the collapse of the system created after the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

According to the interior ministry, about 63 percent of eligible voters above 15 years of age took part in the election. "To my dismay, the majority of eligible people voted -- there is no hope for democratic change in our country," Zozan M, 24, a dental secretary in the well-to-do area in the north of the capital Tehran, told IPS.

"I followed the 'No Vote' campaign advocated by unlawful opposition groups both at home and abroad, but it seems we have been defeated too," she added.

Like many people IPS spoke to for this story, Zozan did not want to give her full name.

Amir Kavian, 43, has been jailed as a prisoner of conscience during Khatami's presidency and was one of the signatories of a petition for boycotting the election. He says the high voter turnout will not prevent the inevitable.

"All of the seven candidates were unable to address the deep-rooted problems in Iranian social, economic and political spheres. In fact, I am happy that the regime will be more monolithic and as a result, headed for doom," he said in an interview.

Some analysts believe that Karrubi's supporters may again take to the streets and that there is a likelihood of street clashes between them and vigilante and militia groups.

Around midnight Saturday the militia supporting Ahmadinedjad spilled into the streets in the eastern area of Tehran to celebrate their favourite candidate's achievement of finishing a close second to Rafsanjani, a well-seasoned mullah and politician.

"If (Ahmadinedjad) becomes president, Enshaallah (God willing) the lofty ideals of the Islamic revolution will be revived and he will fight against injustice, corruption and discrimination," said Ali Reza Hussainabadi, 23, a bearded man selling Islamic CDs and cassettes opposite Tehran University.

Ahmadinedjad issued a statement thanking God and his rivals and adding, " I am not a member of any political party or institute.. I simply rely on God, the wise supreme leader, and the grassroots people and campaign for justice and removing discrimination and alleviating poverty."

Some reformists believe Ahmadinedjad is the man to put Iran on a collision course with the administration of U.S. President George W Bush. "If he becomes president, he will not only not negotiate with America but also speed up the uranium enrichment process," said political activist Ehsan K, 26.

Gholam eza Agazadeh, the president of the Iranian Nuclear Agency, openly expressed his opinion that "only Mr Rafsanjani is capable of settling the dispute over the nuclear issue".

Added Hasan Rouhani, the chief negotiator of the Iranian delegation in nuclear talks, "we cannot deny that the future president's personality will have an impact on the process of negotiation, though the whole nuclear issue is decided by the consensus of all top leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Ahmad Azimi has two children, both studying in the United States. "I think if Rafsanjani is in the presidential office, he'll be able to settle the dispute over the nuclear issue and uranium enrichment. Even if any compromise is needed, he has the guts to sell it to the people and persuade the radical supreme leader," he told IPS. (END/2005)"

Recount Shows No Vote Rigging in Presidential Poll - Yahoo! News

Iran rejects rigging charges in presidential poll - Yahoo! News: "Iran rejects rigging charges in presidential poll By Paul Hughes
Mon Jun 20, 5:11 PM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Officials dismissed rigging allegations in Iran's presidential election on Monday, clearing the way for a run-off vote that could have a major impact on relations with the West and the future of fragile reforms.

Friday's run-off will be between the top two candidates in last week's first round -- pragmatic former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- and many political analysts say the result is unpredictable.

Rafsanjani, 70, bidding to regain the post he held from 1989 to 1997, rebranded himself as a liberal for the campaign, saying the time was right to open a new chapter in Iran-U.S. ties and signaling he would increase social and political freedoms.

His surprise rival Ahmadinejad, 49, who would be Iran's first non-cleric president for 24 years, ran a campaign focusing on the need to tackle poverty and has said resuming talks with Washington would not solve the Islamic Republic's ills.

Iran's hardline Guardian Council, which has the final word on election results, ordered a recount from 100 ballot boxes in four cities after reformists alleged rigging. It was a tiny fraction of tens of thousands of ballot boxes used last week.

"It has been clarified there was no discrepancy in the election results," the council said after the recount.

It said fifth-placed reformist candidate Mostafa Moin had asked for a postponement of the run-off. Third-placed reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi had said some Ahmadinejad votes were paid for with bribes.


A newspaper which printed Karroubi's charges in a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was shut by the judiciary. There have been no popular protests over the results.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli described the election as "highly ... unrepresentative and certainly not responsive to what the Iranian people are looking for, which is more participation, not less; more freedoms, not less; and more democracy, not less."

The United States has accused Iran of having a secret nuclear weapons program. Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is solely for power generation, but has held negotiations with Western officials.

Addressing hardline lawmakers in parliament on Monday, Ahmadinejad criticized the present government's approach to talks with the West.

"Those who are in negotiations are frightened and don't know the people," he was quoted as saying by the ISNA students news agency. "A popular and fundamentalist government will quickly change the country's stance in favor of the nation."

Reformists, some of whom accuse state military organizations like the Basij militia of supporting Ahmadinejad, say he is part of an ultra-conservative, totalitarian plan.

"If he wins Khamenei will really rule everything," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, head of Iran's largest reform party. "We will not have free elections and opposition voices won't be tolerated," he told Reuters.

Islamic hard-liners, many of them former Revolutionary Guards members, won control of many city councils and Iran's parliament in 2003 and 2004 elections which were marred by low turnout.

Rafsanjani, alluding to "organized interference" in the vote, urged Iranians to help him defeat Ahmadinejad.

"I seek your help and ask you to be present in the second round of the election so that we can prevent all extremism," he said in a statement published in several newspapers.


Reformists have rallied behind Rafsanjani, viewing him as the lesser of two evils. "Although we may not agree with all Rafsanjani's programs, we have to support him," Khatami said.

The largest pro-reform student group, which boycotted last week's vote, also said it would campaign for Rafsanjani.

Many political analysts, while surprised by Ahmadinejad's strong showing in the first round, said reformists had provided no concrete evidence of vote-rigging and had underestimated the mayor's strong support among Iran's large mass of pious poor.

"Ahmadinejad sold himself as a Robin Hood -- hardworking, honest, a man of the people," said one analyst, who declined to be named. "He represents the resentment of people toward those who are doing better, driving fancy cars and so on."

Mohsen Faraji, a member of the Basiji militia that enforces social restrictions such as Islamic dress codes for women, said a win for Ahmadinejad, who outlawed billboards of English soccer star David Beckham in Tehran, would herald a new era for Iran.

"History will remember this election," said the 25-year-old. "A wave of change is coming. People want Ahmadinejad as he's one of them."

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi, Edmund Blair, Amir Paivar and Christian Oliver)"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Hossein Derakhshan - Time For This one To Leave Iran

Hossein Derakhshan Wrote
As for my own self, I‘ve been advised to stay in Tehran for a couple of more days. But I have to attend a conference in London on Wednesday and if I can‘t get there by then, it‘ll be a huge risk staying in Iran.

Mon, Jun 20, 2005 Permalink Comments [2] Hossein Derakhshan

Maybe I am reading too much into this but Hossein Derakhshan’s Post on Iran Scan bothers me. I often disagree with Hossein Derakhshan but I respect him. I hope that my dear friends in Iran will do everything to make his trip a pleasant one and to allow him to leave for his conference in London. There are many of us myself included who would be very disappointed if anything unfortunate were to happen to Hossein Derakhshan.
Best wishes,
Barry O’Connell

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Iran poll challenger accused of ballot fraud

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Iran poll challenger accused of ballot fraud: "Iran poll challenger accused of ballot fraud

Dispute over conservative who won place in run-off vote

Robert Tait in Tehran
Monday June 20, 2005
The Guardian
Iran's presidential election was thrown into uncharted territory yesterday after a hardline candidate who unexpectedly won his way into a run-off vote was accused of ballot-rigging.
The allegations against the ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 49, came not only from losing candidates in Friday's first round, but also from aides to the frontrunner, the pragmatic cleric and former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Mr Rafsanjani's suspicions have intensified the controversy surrounding Mr Ahmadinejad's surprise showing. He confounded pollsters to capture nearly 20% of the vote. Mr Rafsanjani polled 21%. The mayor, a former revolutionary guard commander, wants to reinforce Iran's strict Islamic code.

Mr Rafsanjani's aides say Mr Ahmadinejad may have stuffed ballot boxes, bought votes and used improper influence on the guardian council, the religious watchdog overseeing the election.
"We are suspicious. We feel that he was not so popular as to gain this number of votes," said Amir Mohseni, deputy head of Mr Rafsanjani's campaign in Tehran.

"We are trying to build up evidence. We are interviewing voters and trying to get information from official sources, such as the guardian council and the interior ministry. Under the law, we are able to present complaints against the procedure of the election and we are going to take that opportunity."

Mr Rafsanjani's campaign managers fear that such abuses - if true - may be repeated in this Friday's run-off. The campaign's complaints bolster those of Mehdi Karroubi, a moderate cleric who finished third, and the leading reformist, Mostafa Moin, who came fifth after a campaign in which many of his supporters were attacked and beaten by religious vigilantes.

Analysts also expressed deep scepticism. "I cannot believe that Ahmadinejad won 5.7m votes," one commentator said. "I think he got one million extra votes from somewhere. I have serious doubts about these results."

Mr Karroubi, who had seemed poised during Saturday's count to finish second after a populist promise to pay every Iranian £30 to alleviate poverty, said: "Money has changed hands.

"I see this election as being rigged. Some people affiliated to the revolutionary guards and some others exercise influence over the guardian council. I want them to sue me, so I would be able to expose their names in my defence."

Mr Moin's Islamic Iran Participation Front accused the guardian council of funding an £8m campaign to mobilise 300,000 Islamic militias to ensure a hardliner's success.

"Take seriously the danger of fascism," Mr Moin said. "Such creeping and complex attempts will eventually lead to militarism, authoritarianism as well as social and political suffocation in the country."

Critics pointed to other irregularities, including Mr Ahmadinejad's announcement on Saturday that he would be in the run-off, hours before official results were issued. Mr Ahmadinejad dismissed the claims. "I would expect a respected cleric to be more tolerant and accurate," he said of Mr Karroubi.

The interior ministry said 62% of Iran's 47 million voters had taken part in the poll. There were 1.2m spoiled ballots - a high number that may reflect widespread disenchantment with the Islamic system in a country where public-sector employees are obliged to vote and get an electoral stamp in their identity booklets.

Mr Ahmadinejad's young supporters in the Basij, the hardcore of volunteers which enforces Iran's Islamic dress code and separation of the sexes, celebrated into the early hours yesterday, chanting slogans in the same Tehran parks where secular Iranians staged eve-of-poll parties.

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said yesterday during her tour of the Middle East that the election was not a serious step towards democracy: "Any election in which thousands of people are disqualified by fiat, and in which women are disqualified as a class, barely deserves to be given that title, particularly in a place that several years ago seemed to be moving in a different direction.""

Iran DailyArmenians, Christians, Tribal People and Sunni Voted in large Numbers

Iran Daily: "Rafsanjani, Moin Better Placed

Ahmadinejad Leading Rightist Vote
Heavy Turnout Belies Predictions
Second Round Imminent
TEHRAN, June 17--Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Friday a vote for any of the candidates of the ninth presidential election is a vote for the Islamic system, as widespread and heavy voting belied predictions that voter turnout will not exceed 50 percent.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote at Imam Khomeini Mosque in northern Tehran, the leader said, "When we come to the polling stations to cast our votes according to the constitutions, it means that we are voting for the Islamic system."
The leader hoped that the next president would be able to solve the problems of the country and meet its requirements.
Referring to the mischievous moves of some western states to prevent Iranians from voting, Ayatollah Khamenei said such measures have nothing to do with the concept of Western democracy.
Preliminary reports of the voters' choice reveal that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was the top choice for president and Mostafa Moin ranked second. Among the rightist candidates, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a better position compared to his rightist rivals.
In East Asia and in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, North Korea, South Korea and Japan, the following has been reported so far:
Moin tops the list with 575 votes while Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Ali Larijani, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Mehralizadeh followed with 492, 117, 90, 73, 42 and 23 votes respectively.
Although voters in the tribal belt surprisingly showed their enthusiasm for Moin, the breakdown of votes in different cities is expected to be diverse.
And by all indications, the presidential election will most likely enter the second round for the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic.
Also on Friday, President Mohammad Khatami said after casting his vote that the negative propaganda of dissidents has had no impact on the people's wide presence in the election.
"The level of people's participation in election is satisfactory, despite the high volume of negative propaganda preceding the election," he said.
According to IRNA's correspondent at the Interior Ministry's Election Headquarters, President Khatami told Iranian and foreign reporters, "Those whose hearts beat for the grandeur and prosperity of Iran agree that the path toward grassroots democracy is lengthy and the process toward that end is gradual."
The president noted that in moving from a despotic, dependent society to an open, democratic one relying on religious and cultural norms, some people do not find the resulting developments to their liking and boycott the election, "which is their democratic right".
"I hope the dynamic presence of all eligible men and women voters in this election would ease the tough path toward institutionalizing democracy in this country, that is the fruit of the Islamic Revolution," he said.
Asked by a foreign reporter whether the outcome of this election would help promote democracy in Iran, Khatami said, "Elections are essentially the manifestations of democracy and I hope this one, too, would strengthen the foundations of democracy here."
He expressed hope that as in previous elections, the president would be elected during the first round of election.
Meanwhile, Zoroastrians of Yazd also joined hands with their compatriots to participate in the ballot exercise.
Khosrow Khosrawi told IRNA that voting is the duty of all citizens.
"Zoroastrians consider it to be their national duty to vote. We live in complete freedom in the Islamic system and we choose our president vigilantly," he said.
Esfandiyar Pirouzmand said, "It is our duty to participate in the vital undertaking. Voting is the indisputable duty of all Iranians who love their motherland."
Ardekan Electoral Headquarters designated a special ballot box for the comfort of Zoroastrians celebrating 'Nik Banou' (literally meaning Fine Lady) rituals at Chak Chak Temple. Some 10,000 people are participating in the five-day ritual that began on Tuesday.
About 6,000 Zoroastrians live in Yazd, Ardekan and Taft.
In another development, governor of Bandar-e Turkman said a large number of Sunnis showed up at polling stations in the early hours of Friday.
Members of the Armenian minority group turned out massively to cast their votes.
Christians throughout the country, along with their Muslim compatriots, took part in the election.
The Interior Ministry earlier announced 46,786,418 people are eligible to participate.
AFP reported that Iranians living abroad trickled to voting stations on Friday amid apathy, protests and calls by exile opposition groups to boycott Iran's presidential election.
An estimated 3 million Iranians live abroad, more than one-third of them in the United States and several hundred thousand in Europe."

Iran Daily: New Coalitions Shaping for Presidential Runoff - IIPF, IRMO Support Rafsanjani

Iran Daily: "New Coalitions Shaping for Presidential Runoff

IIPF, IRMO Support Rafsanjani

Ahamdinejad Backed
By Sacrificers
TEHRAN, June 19--Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) announced Sunday it will actively enter the second round of election "against the front that relies on political-military ideology".
The reformist party which backed Mostafa Moin and lost in the first round said, "In order to prevent rightists from monopolizing all branches of power, we want forces that advocate freedom, democracy and human rights to abandon their indifference toward what has happened and react accordingly in the second round."
The IIPF also warned that a current has used all the state means and facilities to impose a particular person as the next chief executive, implicitly criticizing the support extended by military and paramilitary forces for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and backing Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the top vote-getter, in the second round.
Another reformist entity Islamic Revolution's Mujahideen Organization (IRMO) came out openly in support of Rafsanjani for the presidential runoff.
In related news, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who also lost the race in the first round, met on Sunday with Rafsanjani and is soon expected to announce his support.
A rightist body, the Society of Islamic Revolution's Sacrificers came out in support of Ahmadinejad for the second round on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mostafa Moin, in a message to the nation on Sunday, thanked the people and the elite for extensively participating in the election.
"Formation of the front for democracy and human rights in line with increasing the capacities of the citizens and upholding the rights of political activists, groups and civil institutions and expediting democratization as well as improving national unity and security is a part of social assets. Organizing the young and intellectual forces, which voted in all humbleness, is another exigency of our times. I shall gradually attend to these issues within the framework that I have always adhered to, but what I presently refer to is another exigency," part of the message said.
Moin, also a former higher education minister, said, "Now that the result of the election has been declared, it is clear that despite all the warnings issued by the president, interior minister and political parties, a special current targeted the health of the electoral race."
He claimed that in the final days of the race, a powerful and intimidating current entered the scene for ensuring the victory of a particular candidate and eliminating other candidates.
Moin also claimed that what happened was an illegal move for depriving one candidate of his rights and increasing the chances of victory of another candidate.
In related development, Jiroft MP Ali Zadsar called on Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to present a report on the performance of individuals and groups, which misused their legal status for defaming him, to the people and the leader.
"I have spent 26 years of my life in political and electoral activities and I never witnessed such an intensive character assassination against one of the genuine sympathizers of the Islamic system. These people introduced Rafsanjani as the root cause of all the problems of the society. At any rate, it is fortunate that Rafsanjani garnered six million votes," he said.
In another development, manager of Hayyan Publishing House, Mehdi Khazali said the campaign activities of Ahmadinejad were acts of demagoguery and warned against such a trend.
He recalled that during his tenure as Tehran mayor, Ahmadinejad engaged in demagoguery to pave the way for his victory in the presidential race instead of paying attention to Tehran's urban development.
"People still remember how Tehran Municipality threw feasts. On what basis did religious groups receive financial assistance from TM? On what basis did substitute Friday prayer leaders receive money from Tehran mayor?" he asked.
Khazali stressed that Ahmadinejad spent billions of rials for his campaign activities without the approval of Tehran City Council.
Moreover, Ahmadinejad issued a communiquŽ announcing his preparedness to cooperate with other presidential candidates.
The communiquŽ urges all other candidates, except Rafsanjani, who is running against him in the second round, to support him in the second round.
Ahmadinejad also reiterated that he entered the race without being affiliated to any political party and will remain so till the end.
Furthermore, supporters of Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani are reorganizing their campaigns for the second round on Sunday.
This is the first time the presidential election has been dragged into the second round in Iran. Campaigning can continue till Thursday and the runoff will be held on Friday."

Iran News - Tens of thousands of police to patrol Iran

Iran News - Tens of thousands of police to patrol Iran: "Tens of thousands of police to patrol Iran

Friday, June 17, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, June 17 (IranMania) - Tens of thousands of Iranian security forces will be on the streets Friday to ensure the country's tight presidential election passes off smoothly, officials said.

The run-up has already been disturbed by deadly bomb attacks at the weekend in the ethnic Arab-dominated city of Ahvaz and Tehran that killed up to 10 people that authorities said were aimed at scaring people off from turning out.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi-Lari said that there will be two police officers stationed at each of the 41,000 polling stations across Iran.

Some 20,000 members of the Iranian security forces will be on duty in the capital Tehran to ensure the safety of voters, the student ISNA agency reported.

"Altogether 20,000 police will be used from Thursday morning until Saturday morning, out of which around 10,000 will in charge of the security of 3,276 polling stations," said the head of Tehran's police force, Brigadier General Morteza Talai.

"No car is allowed to park within a 50 metre (165 feet) radius of any polling station," he added.

With campaigning banned on the day before the election, he said the police will "seriously confront any campaigning near polling stations".

He also told citizens "not to listen to rumours and advice given by those who are sitting in Los Angeles since this is just psychological pressure aimed at undermining people's participation," in a reference to anti-regime US-based satellite channels.

Outgoing President Mohammad Khatami has expressed concern there was an "organised movement" attempting to disrupt the election, the most competitive in the Islamic republic's history." / Middle East & Africa - Rafsanjani faces hardliner in Iran vote / Middle East & Africa - Rafsanjani faces hardliner in Iran vote: "Sunday Jun 19 2005 . All times are London time.

Rafsanjani faces hardliner in Iran vote
By Gareth Smyth in Tehran
Published: June 19 2005 19:04 | Last updated: June 19 2005 19:04

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad arrived for a press conference at the weekend speaking as if already president of Iran.

“Elections are competitions not for power, but to serve the people,” said Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, 49, Tehran's mayor since fundamentalist Islamic conservatives took city hall two years ago and a war veteran.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad faces a run-off against Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the pragmatic former president, in Friday's second round. He took many by surprise, when he won 5.71m votes (19.48 per cent) in last Friday's election, becoming runner-up to Mr Rafsanjani on 6.15m votes (21 per cent).

Both men narrowly pipped Mehdi Karrubi, the reformist cleric, on 17.2 per cent. Trailing him were Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, former police chief, on 13.9 per cent, and Mostafa Moein, the main reformist, on 13.8 per cent.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad overcame fears among fundamentalist conservatives that a three-way split would scupper their presidential chances. His late surge overcame both Mr Qalibaf, running as a conservative moderniser, and Ali Larijani, ex-head of state broadcasting. “While the fundamentalists failed to agree from the top on a joint candidate, a consensus emerged lower down,” said Amir Mohebian, political editor of Resalat, a conservative newspaper. “Mr Qalibaf's campaign [emphasising up-to-date management and technology] alienated core fundamentalist voters.”

The mobilisation for Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, apparently through informal circles of Revolutionary Guards, the Basij [Islamic militia] and some clerics, came in the final three days. Both Dr Moein and Mr Karrubi alleged the Basij had broken the law in backing a particular candidate.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad was backed throughout the campaign by Abadgaran, the Tehran-based fundamentalist grouping that successfully organised victory in the capital's 2003 municipal election and then won a strong influence in the national parliament. He also reached out to ordinary Iranians bamboozled by slick electioneering and cynical about politicians' intentions.

The mayor's campaign promoted his piety and record in the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

In a country with 15 per cent inflation, 12 per cent unemployment and GDP per head of $2,000, many poorer people resent the alleged opulence of Mr Rafsanjani and his family. Mr Rafsanjani did little to convince Iranians he was offering specifics on day-to-day economic issues, speaking vaguely of economic development.

On international issues, Mr Rafsanjani's call for improved relations with the west did little to counter Iranians' suspicion about outside “interference”. “Many Iranians fear Mr Rafsanjani would compromise national interest on the nuclear issue,” said a leading reformist journalist, referring to long-running negotiations with the European Union over a nuclear programme Tehran insists is peaceful.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad, by contrast, recently said Iran had “shown too much good-will vis-a-vis the US and Europe” and that Iranians would not accept “unprincipled decisions”. Iranian reformists on Sunday urged their supporters to rally behind Mr Rafsanjani to preventMr Ahmadi-Nejad winning the run-off, Reuters reported. "

Iran reformists back Rafsanjani -

Iran reformists back Rafsanjani - "AFX News Limited
Iran reformists back Rafsanjani
06.19.2005, 02:29 PM

TEHRAN (AFX) - Iran's reformist camp, whose candidates were knocked out in the first round of the presidential election, have called for voters to back Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the run-off in order to block hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

A statement from the main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), said it would 'move actively against the politico-military camp in the second round to prevent a monopolisation of power' by hardliners.

'The danger which threatens the country today is that of the barracks and soldiers directly intervening in the election and the politics of the country,' it said.

'We hold the hand of all partisans of freedom, democracy and human rights,' the party said, calling on Iranians to vote and 'not to remain indifferent in today's sensitive situation,' the IIPF said.

The party's candidate, Mostafa Moin, came in fifth in Friday's election, which is now set to go into a two man run-off next Friday because none of the seven contenders scored more than 50 pct of the vote.

Rafsanjani is a pragmatic conservative, and but he has recently cast himself as a moderating force who favours closer ties with the West and fewer social restrictions. His rival will be Ahmadinejad, the new face of Iran's extreme right.

The IIPF said Iranians needed 'to prevent our country from falling into the trap of Talibanism and totalitarianism'.

Iran's other main leftist party, the Organisation of Mujahedeen of the Islamic Revolution (OMIR), also backed Rafsanjani.

'OMIR explicitly announces its support to Rafsanjani in the second round of the presidential election and calls on alert and mature Iranians to cast their votes in favour of him to prevent a reactionary dictatorship,' the group said in a statement.

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The copying, republication or redistribution of AFX News content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AFX News.

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VOA News - Iran Reform Leader - "Ahmadinejad, would be far worse for human rights in Iran than Mr. Rafsanjani"

VOA News - Iran Reform Leader Urges Support for Rafsanjani in Second Vote Round: "Iran Reform Leader Urges Support for Rafsanjani in Second Vote Round
By Gary Thomas
19 June 2005

Iranian veiled women, walk past campaign posters of Tehran's hardline mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for presidential elections, at the Enqelab (Revolution) St. in Tehran
A leading reformer in Iran has called on those voters who boycotted Friday's election to vote in the runoff race. The runoff pits a moderate former president against a hard-line conservative.

Breaking his silence about the election, human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi called on reformists Sunday to, as he put it, "hold their noses" and vote for former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Mr. Baghi said those members of Iran's splintered reform movement who boycotted the election should now unite behind Mr. Rafsanjani. He said that the other candidate in Friday's runoff vote, Tehran Mayor Mahmood Ahmadinejad, would be far worse for human rights in Iran than Mr. Rafsanjani.

"We have a selection between bad and worse," he said. "So, I think that, if Hashemi [Rafsanjani] comes to power, at least we have a place to inhalation, to breathe [breathing room]."

Mr. Rafsanjani, considered a moderate, won the most votes in last Friday's election, but did not get 50 percent-plus-one of the vote, forcing a runoff. Mr. Ahmadinejad, a hardline conservative, emerged from a seven-candidate field to take second place. Hundreds of other potential candidates, mainly reformists and women, were disqualified by the Guardian Council, an unelected body of hard-line mullahs.

Mr. Baghi is a writer and activist, particularly on behalf of political prisoners. His books have been banned in Iran, and, in 2003, he was released from prison after serving three years on charges of abandoning the Islamic faith. He still has one more suspended year on his sentence that he may yet have to serve.

Mr. Baghi had refused to take a public stance about the election until now. He is breaking his silence because, he said, the gains made by democratic reformers in recent years might well disappear, if Mr. Ahmedinejad wins the presidency.

Mr. Baghi echoed the complaints of vote fraud made by third-place finisher and reform candidate Mehdi Karroubi. However, he offered no evidence to prove the assertion. The Interior Ministry has said the voting was in order.

"Fairly [democratic]," said Mr. Baghi when asked if the election was democratic.

He said the role of the Guardian Council, an unelected body of hardline clerics, marred the electoral process. He did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi called on President Bush to apologize for calling the Iranian election undemocratic. Mr. Kharrazi said Mr. Bush's remarks the day before the election actually spurred voter turnout, and dampened the boycott urged by some reformists."

Reformists are meeting to Discuss Baking Rafsanjani.

Description of Selected News: "Statements on presidential elections

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN – The Intelligence Ministry issued a statement on Sunday criticizing presidential candidate Mahdi Karrubi for alleging that the ministry had distributed provocative opinion polls among officials on the status of candidates.

“According to the Intelligence Ministry’s latest opinion polls Karrubi had achieved a significantly higher amount of the people’s votes in the last few days leading to the election, while other candidates had clearly lost part of their public support,” the statement read. “It seems that Mr. Karrubi has failed to notice these opinion polls and unfortunately this has caused him to make a hasty judgment.”

Former Majlis speaker Mahdi Karrubi, who came in third place in the poll, protested against the result of elections on Saturday saying he would appeal to the Supreme Leader to designate a special team to restore the rights of certain candidates.

An enthusiastic Iranian nation stormed ballot boxes on Friday voting for president from among seven candidates.

Based on official figures announced on Saturday by the Election Headquarters of the Interior Ministry, Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Tehran Mayor Mahmud Ahmadinejad have taken the lead with the former in first and the latter in second place. Neither received over 50 percent of the vote and will hence meet in a runoff election on June 24.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Masood Jazayeri noted on Sunday that people’s opinions should not be dishonored. Jazayeri said “If Mr. Karrubi objects to the process of the election there is a legal way to deal with this objection but it is not becoming for him to blame others for his failure.”

“People see various approaches and plans and give their opinion; these opinions should not be dishonored. “The gentlemen should better watch out not to embitter the people after they have experienced the sweetness of their recent move.”

Presidential candidate Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who came in fourth place in the poll, issued a statement on Sunday calling for people’s massive turnout in the second stage of polling.

“We have reached our goal, that is people’s massive participation in the poll and will remain as diligent as ever in serving the nation and Islam,” Qalibaf said in his statement.

Meanwhile, Qalibaf's spokesman Mohsen Bahrami told AFP on Sunday that "We will not be supporting Mahmud Ahmadinejad” in the runoff.

The Assembly of Researchers and Teachers of the Qom Seminary issued a statement on Sunday lauding the Iranian people for their united participation in the ninth presidential election.

The vigilant presence of the Iranian nation in the June 17 presidential poll was a strong response to the global arrogance led by the United States, the statement read.

The Islamic Assembly of Iran’s Doctors also issued a statement on Sunday saying that the Iranian nation frustrated the hopes of the foolish U.S. president by establishing a great presence beside ballot boxes.

The Iranian people demonstrated their strong will to determine the fate of the Islamic Republic and to uphold their independence, freedom and power, the statement read.

A group of political activists and figures announced their stances toward the frontrunners, Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, in separate interviews with ISNA.

Kamaleddin Shahriyari a member of the central council of the Engineers Islamic Society said on Sunday that the EIS has not yet decided which candidate it will support in the runoff.

Political secretary of the Islamic Revolution Devotees Society also announced on Sunday that members of the IRDS are divided on supporting Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad.

“We will hold a session later on Sunday or Monday and announce our official stance on supporting one of the two candidates,” he said.

Reza Raees Karami, a central council member of the Islamic Assembly of the Medical Society said on Sunday that his group would adopt the same stance that supporters of reformist candidate Mostafa Moin would adopt.

Spokesman for the Islamic Revolution Mujahedin Organization, Mohsen Armin stated that IRMO would announce its official stance toward the issue over the next few days, while central council member of the Islamic Iran Participation Party, Elaheh Koolaee noted that a congress of supporters of Moin would be held on Monday to make a final decision about the runoff. Secretary General of the Zeynab Society, Maryam Behruzi announced that Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani “are of no difference for us”, saying “their success in reaching the second stage of polling means a victory for the conservatives since Ahmadinejad was supported by the conservatives while great conservative movements like the Association of Combatant Clerics and the Qom Seminary Teachers supported Rafsanjani.”

Behruzi added that the Zeynad Society would announce its final decision after holding a session Monday night. Political Secretary of the Followers of the Imam and Leadership Front said that the FILF has not yet made a decision about the runoff but “is not expected to reach a consensus on supporting one of the two candidates.”

As a member of the Coordination Council of the Islamic Revolution Forces Committee, he went on to say that the CCIRFC would hold a meeting on the issue in the next two days but is also not expected to reach a clear result.

Shahindokht Dehbozorgi, a member of the central council of the Assembly of Iran’s Women Journalists, said that her group would announce its final position toward the issue by Wednesday.

Spokesman for the Majlis Solidarity and Efficiency Faction, Reza Talaii-Nik noted that although the group prefers Rafsanjani, it has not yet made an official announcement.

Mohammad Nabi Habibi, Secretary General of the Islamic Coalition Party postponed announcing the party’s official stance until the CCIRFC makes a final decision.

Meanwhile, political parties and groups which supported Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad at the first round of polling are fervently continuing campaigns in favor of their desired candidate.

Khosro Daneshju, a member of the Coalition for Development announced that a consensus would be reached among the conservatives on Ahmadinejad while spokesman for the Moderation and Development Party, Gholam Ali Dehqan voiced support for Rafsanjani.

“As president, Rafsanjani can modify the challenge of foreign policy and boost national solidarity in the internal scene,” he commented."

Bush Remarks May Have Spurred Iran Voters

Bush Remarks May Have Spurred Iran Voters: "4:04 PM PDT, June 19, 2005 : World E-mail story Print Most E-mailed

Bush Remarks May Have Spurred Iran Voters
By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's spy chief used just two words to respond to White House ridicule of last week's presidential election: "Thank you." His sarcasm was barely hidden. The backfire on Washington was more evident.

The sharp barbs from President Bush were widely seen in Iran as damaging to pro-reform groups because the comments appeared to have boosted turnout among hard-liners in Friday's election -- with the result being that an ultraconservative now is in a two-way showdown for the presidency.

"I say to Bush: `Thank you,'" quipped Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi. "He motivated people to vote in retaliation."

Bush's comments -- blasting the ruling clerics for blocking "basic requirements of democracy" -- became a lively sideshow in Iran's closest election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And they highlighted again the United States' often crossed-wire efforts to isolate Iran.

Bush described the election as an exercise in futility because Iran's real power rests with the non-elected Islamic clerics, who can override the president and parliament. Many agree with that description of a regime that allowed just eight presidential candidates from more than 1,000 hopefuls.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the election shows that the country is out of step with democratic reforms in the Middle East.

"I just don't see the Iranian elections as being a serious attempt to move Iran closer to a democratic future," she said in an interview on ABC's "This Week."

But the harder the United States pushes, even with the best of intentions, the more ground it has seems to lose among mainstream Iranians, who represent possible key allies against the Islamic establishment, say some analysts of Iranian politics.

"Unknowingly, (Bush) pushed Iranians to vote so that they can prove their loyalty to the regime -- even if they are in disagreement with it," said Hamed al-Abdullah, a political science professor at Kuwait University.

In 2002, most Iranians were indignant when Bush placed their nation in an "axis of evil" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Since then, U.S.-led pressure over Iran's nuclear program has put even liberal Iranians on the defensive.

Bush's pre-election denunciations seemed to do the same. Iranian authorities claim Bush energized undecided voters to go to the polls and undercut a boycott drive led by liberal dissidents opposed to the Islamic system.

The unexpectedly strong turnout -- nearly 63 percent -- produced a true surprise in the No. 2 finish of hard-line Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, He will face the top finisher, moderate statesman Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, in a Friday runoff.

Rafsanjani, Iran's president in 1989-1997, has said he is open to greater dialogue with the United States.

But Ahmadinejad offered no such opening after the vote was tallied Saturday, and he could take a harsher stance toward the United States and its concerns -- especially accusations that Iran is secretly seeking nuclear arms. Iran denies the charges and puts them down to U.S. anger with the clerical regime.

"You only have to look at the comments" by Bush to understand that he "seeks hostility" against Iran, Ahmadinejad said.

The conservative hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan wrote: "People crushed the U.S. comments and wishes under their feet."

But even many opponents of the Islamic establishment objected to Bush's tone and timing.

The president's words sounded too much like the pre-war rhetoric against Saddam, and many on-the-fence voters were shocked into action, said Abdollah Momeni, a political affairs expert at Tehran University.

"People faced a dilemma," Momeni said. "In people's minds it became a choice between voting or giving Bush an excuse to attack."

Another political commentator, Davoud Hermidas Bavand, believed the fallout from Bush's statements went beyond the election by destroying lingering hopes that Washington policy-makers finally would accept Iran's regime.

The United States broke ties with Iran after the revolution when militants seized the U.S. Embassy and held 52 hostages for 444 days.

At a news conference Sunday, Iran's foreign minister, Kamel Kharrazi, said Bush "should apologize to the people of Iran for his comments." He also extended another wry "thank you."

"Bush's statements brought out voters who didn't want to participate in the elections," Kharrazi said. "We have to thank him for this."

Across the Middle East, Bush's blast hit a fault line.

The president is trying to firm up the United States' pro-democracy credentials by encouraging gradual reforms in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

But at the same time, the White House often is seen as having double standards with the occupation of Iraq and alleged abuses of Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The Bush comments are an example of "the kind of American intervention" that often boomerangs in the region, said Egyptian political analyst Salama Ahmed Salama.

"Bush meant to discourage the hard-liners," he said, "but instead he mobilized their supporters."

Associated Press reporters Maamoun Youssef in Cairo, Egypt, and Diana Elias in Kuwait City contributed to this report."

Rafsanjani allies seek vote unity - "form an anti-fascist front"

Rafsanjani allies seek vote unity - Breaking News - World - Breaking News: "Rafsanjani allies seek vote unity
June 20, 2005 - 5:59AM

Iranian reformists are urging their supporters to snap out of their dejection and rally behind cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to prevent his surprise hardline challenger Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from winning a presidential run-off next Friday.

"We should use our full force to defend Rafsanjani. We should form an anti-fascist front," said Hamid Reza Jalalipour, a leader of the reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Another reformist party, the Islamic Revolution Mujahideen Organisation, led by Behzad Nabavi, also threw its weight behind Rafsanjani despite its differences with him.

It cited the "orchestrated involvement of military bodies and entities ... in favour of the most radical anti-reform faction" and said Iran was in peril from fascism.

Similarly, hardliners called for conservatives to close ranks behind Tehran ex-mayor Ahmadinejad, who almost overhauled elder statesman Rafsanjani in the first-round vote.

Siyasat-e-Ruz newspaper said conservatives could have won outright if they had settled on one candidate. "However, it is not too late now ... Unity must top our agenda," it said.

Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, with about a fifth of the vote each, just pulled clear of their five rivals in a poll damned by Washington as a travesty of the democracy Iranians yearned for.

"I just don't see the Iranian elections as being a serious attempt to move Iran closer to a democratic future," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News.

She criticised the legitimacy of the electoral process, in which unelected clerics barred most of the 1,000 presidential hopefuls, including all the women, from standing.

Those defects prompted some Iranian reformists, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, to boycott the poll.

"As long as they (the clerical establishment) decide for people and tell people whom to vote for by qualifying and disqualifying candidates, I will not vote," she told Reuters.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed the 63 per cent turnout as a slap to "ignorant enemy" President George W Bush.

Iranians now face a stark choice on their country's future in the first run-off election since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

A senior Rafsanjani aide urged reformists, secularists and moderate conservatives to unite behind the former president to maintain a political balance against "militarist" tendencies.

"We all can hear the footsteps of fascism," Mohammad Atrianfar said. "If we create a united front for a national coalition, we will win the Friday election."

He echoed accusations from Moin's camp that Ahmadinejad had used Basij religious militiamen to help get out the vote.

"Using a paramilitary organisation to mobilise voters is a very dangerous move," Atrianfar said.

The daily Sharq, which Atrianfar controls, said voting for Rafsanjani was the only way to stop religious hardliners from gaining a monopoly on Iran's ruling institutions.

"We can call him arrogant and criticise his preference for development over democracy," wrote columnist Mohammad Qouchani, "(but) now we clearly see that Rafsanjani is the only choice left for preserving democracy in Iran."

Though Rafsanjani does not challenge clerical rule, he is seen as a counterweight to the hardline anti-Western elite and has called for a "new chapter" in Iran-US relations.

While Rafsanjani, 70, has promised to improve ties with the West and preserve social freedoms, his 49-year-old opponent has focused on tackling poverty and maintaining Islamic values.

"My government will support the poor and the deprived," Ahmadinejad said after the first-round vote."

Ahmadinezhad, Rafsanjani, reps disagree over security chief's role

Ahmadinezhad, Rafsanjani, reps disagree over security chief's role: "Media Monitor

Ahmadinezhad, Rafsanjani, reps disagree over security chief's role
Jun 19, 2005, 22:30 GMT

Excerpt from report by Iranian TV on 19 June

[In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. [Passage omitted: On Mohammad Hoseyn Mar'ashi and Kalhor representing the views of Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Mahmud Ahmadinezhad in Iranian presidential elections]

[Mar'ashi] You see, when discussing the president's capabilities, The president must be capable and society must recognize his capabilities. Of course, I fully agree that the people must sit in judgment and, for that reason, we will be waiting for the people's judgment on Friday [25 June, the second round of Iranian presidential elections]. God willing, we will see the outcome as well. However, this will depend on whether there is a fair contest. However, in a period during which one could not conduct any kind of campaign against a presidential candidate, five million CDs, which contain nothing but falsehood and lies, were produced and distributed. Of course, I am not saying that you [interrupted]

[Kalhor] Yes.

[Mara'shi] I really insist that the honourable information and interior ministries must [interrupted].

[Kalhor - interrupting] They must investigate this.

[Mara'shi] They must announce that in the period during which campaigns could not be conducted against His Excellency because of his candidacy [-interrupted]

[Kalhor - interrupting] Such things were done against Mr Ahmadinezhad as well. However, I am not going to go into it.

[Mara'shi] Yes, even if such things were done to Mr Ahmadinezhad they were done sporadically. Yes, you see [interrupted]

[Kalhor] So do you accept responsibility for what happened in Mr Ahmadinezhad's case?

[Mar'ashi] No, I do not. I do not accept the responsibility for it. Whoever has done this is responsible for his actions. However, you see, five million CDs which contain nothing but lies were produced. Moreover, many secret pamhplets against Mr His Excellency Hashemi[-Rafsanjani] were distributed. Many allegations were made. We can see the continuation of that sort of thing elsewhere. So they must come and talk about this. Then, the institutions which must not interfere in politics and preserve the dignity of their system must do so, then the people will be able to sit in judgment. Then we will fully accept that. But those are the two pre-conditions. The we will wait for the people's judgment on Friday and we will see what they want.

However, the crux of the matter is that the indivdual in question must be capable, competent, able and brave. At the same time, society, including societies of experts, specialists and managers must accept his seniority and his place as a high-ranking individual. You see, a person such as Dr [Hasan] Rowhani who is the secretary of the country's Supreme National Security Council is among the very few people who has been dealing with the sensitive nuclear energy dossier. He has been responsible for negotiating on Iran's behalf. Ultimately, the likes of Dr Rowhani [interrupted]

[Kalhor] He will continue to do so in the future as well.

[Mara'shi] As I said, the likes of Mr Rowhani will not agree to serve if they do not recognize the seniority of the future president.

[Kalhor] How do you know that?

[Mar'ashi] I am informed about this and that is why I am telling you this. [Passage omitted: On Mara'shi talking about the same issue by citing other examples and moving onto other issues and on Kalhor saying that he will remain friends with whoever is president]

[Kalhor] You see, the point at issue is that, today, our management really needs a revolution. I am just saying this as an individual. I mean the stagnation and sclerosis in such areas is very serious indeed. I mean one has to use words that I would not like to use in such a session. I suspect that the people think that among all the candidates, this particular candidate can do this better. My duty is this. I am saying this about His Excellency Dr Rowhani because we have known each other for a long time both before and after the revolution. He will accept this if I say that. Please permit all the people like us to do so. I am really insignificant and I am only an insignificant soldier. However, as the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i] graciously said, we shall serve the likes of Mr Rowhani and whoever is president. You should not say such things about him or anyone esle for that matter. I think that His Excellency Mr Hashemi[-Rafsanjani] will do so too. We all love Iran and we shall give it all of our experience. I don't think that any of the people named or any of those whose names were not mentioned would say that if this person came to power, I will cooperate, but if another person came to power, I would not. It has really never been like that until now. It has not been like that until now. [passage omitted: On two kinds of government, old and yoiung governments]

Source: Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 2, Tehran, in Persian 1800 gmt 19 Jun 05

BBC Mon ME1 MEPol bg

Copyright 2005 BBC Monitoring Service distributed by United Press International"

Sunday, June 19, 2005

IRMO (MIRO) backs Hashemi Rafsanjani in run-off election - Irna

IRMO backs Hashemi Rafsanjani in run-off election - Irna: "IRMO backs Hashemi Rafsanjani in run-off election Tehran, June 19, IRNA
Islamic Revolution Mojahedin Organization (IRMO) said on Sunday that the political party will back Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the run-off election.

IRMO said in a statement that it prefers the next president not to accept to become a 'procurement officer' or 'secretary of government organs'.

It appreciated extensive turnout in presidential election as a great victory for the nation, but, at the same time condemned orchestrated efforts of 'military organs which have nationwide networks to bring to top the most extremist anti-reform candidate'.

It hailed the process of the election in which there was diversity in terms of candidates, but, complained against illegal interference in the voting and the huge expenditure from public funds in the last few days ahead of the election day.

"What happened in the course of the election is an attempt by certain organs to turn the Islamic Republic to the Islamic Rule stripping the popular system from the republic aspect," said the statement.

The political party called on the public to vote for Hashemi Rafsanjani in the run-off election to avert domination of fascism."

On Saturday Count still had Rafsanjani and Karroubi in the lead

Iran: Latest election results show Rafsanjani and Karroubi in the lead: "Payvand's Iran News ...

Iran: Latest election results show Rafsanjani and Karroubi in the lead
Tehran, June 18, IRNA-Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Majlis speaker Mehdi Karroubi are still taking the lead in the presidential race, it was announced here Saturday afternoon.

Out of a total of 26,484,370 votes counted throughout the country by 15:45 hours Saturday, Rafsanjani and Karroubi have gained the highest number of votes.

The following table shows the latest vote count announced by the elections headquarters of the Interior Ministry Saturday afternoon:

1. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 5,474,885
2. Mehdi Karroubi 4,924,731
3. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 4,810,079
4. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf 3,766,444
5. Mostafa Moin 3,635,990
6. Ali Larijani 1,609,029
7. Mohsen Mehralizadeh 1,185,797"

World Peace Herald

World Peace Herald: "Interview: Rafsanjani runoff win may bring changes to Iran
By Shinkichi Suzuki and Hind el Hallage
Special to World Peace Herald
Published June 18, 2005

CAIRO -- Iran held presidential elections on Friday, but none of the seven candidates received a majority vote. The top two vote-getters will go into a runoff on June 24. World Peace Herald interviewed Mohamed Saeed Abdul Momen, head of strategic center of Iranian studies at Ain Shams University regarding his views on the Iranian elections.

Q: The presidential race in Iran has turned out to be a very close contest. Who will win in your opinion, and Why? What is your prospect for changes in Iran after a new president is electe?

A: If Hashemi Rafsanjani wins, there will be a remarkable change in Iran's system. Because of the existence of hard rivalry between him and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the top leader, Rafsanjani who is considered to be the second strongest leader in Iran will try to gain the upper-hand over Khamenei. For example, he aims at bringing the nuclear issues under his control. In addition, he aims to rewrite the constitution with regard to journalism so that more press freedom will be allowed and a new more democratic period will begin.

Also, we can notice that Rafsanjani has skills with media. He likes to give press interviews to different mass media. In addition, he knows very well that the difficulties he faced when he was elected for the sixth term in Islamic Shura Council were caused by journalists hostile to him.

Another subject matter in his first priorities will be free commerce. Rafsanjani used to promote commercial projects and economical ideologies. He has very good relations with bazaar men and private financial establishments. He will work on freedom of commerce, try to open up Iran's economy and activate the role of Iran in international economic organizations.

Rafsanjani seeks to continue the basic structural projects that he started during his previous term as president. This means he will not limit commercial activity. That is because he realizes how wealthy other countries in the region are. He is trying to be a commercial mediator between Central Asia, India and Pakistan, as well as a mediator between Gulf countries and the West.

The relationship with the U.S. will be another focus for Rafsanjani. He emphasizes that he is the only one who can retain good relations with U.S. and keep the relationship in balance.

It was known that Iran-U.S. relations represent a big problem for Iran's foreign policies. There are some extremists who consider the U.S. to be the main reason for Iranian problems and believe there will never be a mutual good relations between the two countries.

Rafsanjani has proven his ability to deal with U.S. He was able to solve some problems in his past presidential term. He was able to get tire parts for factories and built a Coca Cola factory in Iran as a symbol for his ability to convince Iran to deal with U.S. economically.

Q: Democracy of Iran is not perfect. It is limited by Islam. A few Islamic scholars control a large majority of the population. The clergy have the right to choose candidates. What do you think about this?

A: Iran is convinced that they should practice an Islamic democracy. Its Islamic democracy is from a Shiite point of view, not its general common meaning. The Iranian system chooses only one element of many political elements of Islamic ideology. This element is "rule by the Islamic scholar." They are convinced that the Islamic scholar is the most suitable ruler to guide people. Religious science, justice, and public acceptance are the conditions by which they choose this ruling scholar.

Q: The Iranian government insists that their nuclear development is for peace. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United States have stated that Iran cooperation was not enough. European countries and the entire world doubt Iran's intention now.

A: In the beginning, I would like to point out that Iranian nuclear program is not only a cultural issue but also it is related to the Iranian character and traditions. So it cannot be a matter for bargaining. For example, the nuclear issues were not used as the cards by which election candidates run with. The leader is the only one who takes care of these issues and constitutes a special scientific assembly for it.

This means that Iran talks seriously about continuing their nuclear projects. Yet, Iran is not in hurry to implement them. That is why they set up the projects in stages and adopted a "self-sufficient" strategy, wherby they do not import any nuclear materials or parts from abroad.

Bushehr nuclear power plant is no longer the basis of this project. Iran began to build more reactors in some difficult and undeveloped places that are characterized by difficult geographical terrain and near uranium fields. Iran possesses rich resources of uranium, which could be exploited commercially, Yet, Iran considers it a treasure for the nuclear projects.

Using nuclear energy to build huge economical projects proves that Iran aims for peace. Yet, the misunderstanding between Iran and the rest of the world comes from the traditions of the common Iranian character. Iranian personality believes in "El Takya" which means that person should hide his real feelings and appear to be well."