Sunday, June 19, 2005

Reuters | Nobel Winner Ebadi Enemey of the Republic

Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Nobel winner Ebadi says will boycott Iran election

Sun June 19, 2005 7:32 PM GMT+05:30
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, echoing U.S. criticism of the Islamic state's electoral process, said on Sunday she would boycott Friday's presidential run-off election.

"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," Ebadi told Reuters.

More than 1,000 people who registered to stand in Iran's June 17 presidential election were barred from running by the hardline Guardian Council supervisory body -- a panel of 12 unelected clerics and jurists.

As in the past, all women candidates were disqualified -- something which Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, has repeatedly criticised as unfair and unconstitutional.

None of the seven candidates who did stand on Friday secured 50 percent of the vote, forcing a run-off on June 24 between moderate cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the ultra-conservative mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I didn't vote on Friday and I'm not going to vote next Friday," said Ebadi, whose work as a human rights lawyer brings her into frequent conflict with Iran's religious authorities.

But she did not call on other Iranians to join her boycott and declined to forecast the result of the run-off.

"I don't want anyone to follow my decision. People are politically wise enough to decide for themselves," she said.

Turnout in Friday's first round was a respectable 63 percent of eligible voters.

U.S. President George W. Bush said last week the poll was unfair because of the prior disqualification of candidates.

His secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, kept up the criticism on Sunday. "I just don't see the Iranian elections as being a serious attempt to move Iran closer to a democratic future," she told Fox TV."