Thursday, June 16, 2005

IRAN: WARNING OF PLANS TO DISRUPT VOTE AS ELECTION CAMPAGNING ENDS

IRAN: WARNING OF PLANS TO DISRUPT VOTE AS ELECTION CAMPAGNING ENDS: "

IRAN: WARNING OF PLANS TO DISRUPT VOTE AS ELECTION CAMPAGNING ENDS

Tehran, 16 June (AKI) - Campaigning in Iran's presidential elections came to a close on Thursday, one day before the vote, with Iran's outgoing president, Mohammad Khatami saying that there is an organised dirty tricks campaign to disrupt the election. "It seems there is an organised movement to hurt the glorious process of the elections," he said in a letter quoted by the official media.

The current front-runner in the polls is former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani but reports suggest that he may not be able to garner 50 percent of the votes and will probably face a tough challenge from two rivals, which may result in a run-off vote to decide who will be Iran's next president. The polls indicate that Rafsanjani's main rivals are conservative former police chief Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and the reformist Mostafa Moin, an education minister under Khatami.

In the letter, Khatami did not identify who could be behind the plans to disrupt the vote which he said included "disruption of gatherings, beatings, illegal pamphlets and spreading lies to ruin candidates' reputations regardless of political inclination".

Iran has been rocked by multiple bombings in the capital and other cities in recent days that left up to 10 people dead.

Rafsanjani also denounced an alleged dirty tricks campaign against him by a "well-funded" opponent whom he refused to identify.

One of the candidates, former revolutionary guards chief Mohsen Rezai, pulled out of the race on Wednesday, in an apparent bid more chance to fellow right-wing candidates.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, the Tehran Police commander Morteza Talaie said on Thursday that 20,000 policemen will be on guard in the capital, to guarantee the security. He said another 5,000 are tasked with patrolling the city 24 hours ahead of election.

He said the police will strongly stop any form of violation of election regulations and will enforce ban on any kind of election campaign by any of the candidates one day before the election."