Monday, June 20, 2005

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."