Monday, March 17, 2008

Violations In Favor of Ahmadinejad

Unprecedented Elections

‎Last Friday’s Majlis elections were, according to unofficial sources, the most ‎controversial and rigged elections in the Islamic Republic’s history. ‎

Prior to Friday’s elections, some political figures had warned about the election’s ‎integrity due to ideological affiliations between election administrators and oversight ‎committees. The earliest news reports on Friday morning indicated that soldiers ‎stationed in garrisons in Northern Tehran were “forced to vote for hardliner candidates.” ‎

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who shortened his trip to Africa to return for the elections ‎appeared at the “Lorzadeh” mosque in Tehran and cast his vote. Reporting from the ‎same mosque, the reformist news website Baharestan-e Hashtom wrote, “In a move that ‎clearly violated election rules, administrative and oversight voting officers handed out ‎flyers belonging to the United Front [the hardliner group associated with President ‎Ahmadinejad].” ‎

At the headquarters of the Reformist Coalition group news broke out that administration ‎supporters were setting up campaign placards belonging to hardliners candidates across ‎Tehran in a move to tempt voters to vote for candidates affiliated with the administration. ‎Electioneering must legally stop 24 hours prior to election day.‎

But in a blatant violation of election rules, officers from the Guardian Council barred ‎representatives appointed by the Reformist Coalition group from overseeing the counting ‎of ballots in several of Tehran's precincts. ‎

A news source in Tehran told Rooz that last Friday, workers working at state-owned ‎factories were forced to vote for candidates affiliated with the administration. According ‎to this source, laborers working at Saipa, Iran Khodro, and Pars Khodro auto assembly ‎plants, who were for the first time, working three shifts last Friday, were given campaign ‎material belonging to United Front candidates and asked to vote for them. More than 40 ‎thousand laborers were allegedly involved in the event. ‎

Other than Tehran, reports of rampant violations came from across the country as well. ‎Rooz received a report indicating that in some villages, members of the Basij were ‎recruited to brief the public regarding the “supreme leader’s wishes.” This report added ‎that among the supreme leader's wishes was a "religious order" to vote for candidates ‎affiliated with the administration. ‎
Hardliners Complain Against Hardliners ‎

Aftab website published a letter authored by several candidates from the Broad Coalition ‎group (Etelafe Faragire Osoolgaran), a hardliner group rivaling the administration-backed ‎United Front (Jebhe Motahed). The letter revealed that the scope of vote-riggings and ‎violations were not limited to reformist candidates. In their letter, which was addressed ‎to the Guardian Council, the Broad Coalition candidates lamented frequent violations and ‎voter fraud. In the words of one analyst, in this election, “Ahamdinejad’s supporters ‎targeted not just the reformists, but also critical hardliners.”‎

The Broad Coalition candidates complained in their letter, “In light of frequent violations ‎perpetrated by the ‘United Front’ [affiliated with the president], including placement of ‎campaign placards and display of names of candidates in the three non-campaign days, ‎and given eye-witness accounts and reports from the public regarding frequent violations ‎in ballot centers in favor of United Front’s candidates in Tehran, Rey, Islamshahr and ‎Shemiranat, while condemning such actions and calling for their immediate ‎investiagation, we warn of the consequences of such violations.” ‎

Meanwhile, on Saturday evening, the minister of interior, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, ‎announced that “Of those elected to the Majlis, 71 percent are principlists and support the ‎country’s current policies.” The minister's announcement angered the reformists. ‎

In connection with the minister's announcement, the spokesperson for the reformist ‎coalition, Abdollah Naseri, said, “We did not expect the interior minister to reduce the ‎position of himself and his office to the level of the hardliner camp’s spokesperson.” ‎

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