Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reactions to Elections in Iran

Contradictory Numbers

In the process of counting ballots from last Friday's parliamentary elections and while ‎results of many pecincts are still not determined, the Interior Ministry, in an ‎unprecedented move, announced, “More than seventy percent of candidates elected to the ‎eight Majlis of the Islamic Republic belong to the Principalist camp.” [Principalists or ‎Osoolagarans are the government loyal forces.]‎

Until that the final hours of last night, only Majid Ansari, from the reformist E’temad ‎Melli party, was among the top thirty candidates, at number thirty; an event that has been ‎regarded with amazement and bewilderment by reformists and analysts alike. Adding to ‎worries are contradictory numbers announced by different election officials. ‎

The figures released in the last 24 hours point to conflicting results in Tehran’s race. In ‎the final hours of yesterday, Shahab News reported, “Obvious contradictory figures from ‎the district of Tehran and the absolute silence of the Interior Ministry has bewildered the ‎people of Tehran and analysts.” ‎

Meanwhile, while news agencies sympathetic to moderates reported that “close ‎competition is taking place between prominent conservative and reformist candidates in ‎Tehran,” according to a state Fars News Agency report at 7:07pm, “Based on results from ‎‎1100 ballot boxes, mostly located in Northern Tehran, 30 candidates from the various ‎conservative groups are leading in votes.” ‎

Fars News Agency, which is close to military and security organizations, announced ‎these results while the Reformist Coalition's official website quoted the Coalition’s ‎president, Hossein Marashi, as having said, “Based on reports that we have received so ‎far, 17 reformist candidates are leading in Tehran and 17 reformist candidates from ‎Tehran will win seats in the Majlis.” ‎

The confusion over who is winning seats reached its climax when the Interior Ministry, ‎in an unprecedented move, announced that it will refrain from publishing any figures in ‎Tehran until after all the votes were counted. ‎

Baharestan website, a reformist website to which access was denied this week, reported, ‎‎“Reformist candidates are fighting with election officials to preserve the integrity of ‎people's votes. Reports indicate that in large cities efforts are under way to deprive ‎reformist candidates of spots in the Majlis. Due to such efforts, reformist candidates in ‎Shiraz and Mashhad were not able to win seats in the first round.” ‎

The Interior Ministry’s disregard for the reformists’ protests enticed the latter to ‎demonstrate at the ministry's main building in Tehran. According to Norooz website, “In ‎light of the Interior Ministry’s hesitance to announce Tehran's results and allegations of ‎fraud and vote rigging in favor of one particular faction, dozens of reformist candidates ‎gathered at the Ministry's main building and asked to be informed of the true election ‎results.” ‎

Raja News, a website close to the Ahmadinejad camp, reacted to this gathering and ‎accused reformists of “politicking for more than their share.” ‎

A reformist candidate, Javad Eta’at, noted yesterday, “Our representatives, who were ‎present when votes were being counted in 400 ballot centers, reported that 17 to 18 ‎reformists have received enough votes to win seats. We are amazed to see conservative ‎news agencies publish Tehran's results when the Interior Ministry claims not to have ‎released such results."

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