NewsOtherIran cleric draws fire for divulging vote fix

Iran cleric draws fire for divulging vote fix

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Jun. 21 – Recent comments by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and his decision to go public with information about tampering of the polls have aroused the wrath of the ruling clerics, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Reports from Tehran indicated that members of the paramilitary Bassij had attacked Karroubi’s residence and threatened to lay siege to it, and an array of military and political institutions closely identified with Khamenei issued statements denouncing the cleric’s “moves that only help the enemies of the Islamic Republic”. Iran Focus

Tehran, Jun. 21 – Recent comments by defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi and his decision to go public with information about tampering of the polls have aroused the wrath of the ruling clerics, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Reports from Tehran indicated that members of the paramilitary Bassij had attacked Karroubi’s residence and threatened to lay siege to it, and an array of military and political institutions closely identified with Khamenei issued statements denouncing the cleric’s “moves that only help the enemies of the Islamic Republic”.

Karroubi accused the assailants of being the agents of the rival faction, led by Khamenei. “The same people who were able to systematically create votes and extend voting hours so that in the vacant hours each person was able to cast ten ballots are the same people who are spreading these rumours”, he said.

Karroubi, a long-time confidant of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and two-time former Majlis (Parliament) Speaker, has always been considered an “insider” by the powerful ayatollahs who hold the key levers of power in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Parliament Speaker, he was derided by some of Khatami’s allies in the Majlis as a “mouthpiece” for Khamenei, after his vigorous defence of the office and unquestionable authority of the Supreme Leader.

But in a sign that the old fabric of clerical hierarchy is cracking under increasing political and social pressure, Karroubi reacted with unseen anger to the results of the first round of the presidential elections. His assertion that “each person was able to cast ten ballots” is the first comment by a senior Iranian official acknowledging that the theocratic regime fixes the vote by such methods as multiple voting by individuals.

Iran’s Interior Ministry placed voter-turnout at 62 percent, a figure previously “predicted” by Khamenei, while the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK), having unofficial monitors at 15,000 polling stations across the country, put voter-turnout at about 10 percent.

Karroubi’s allegations and a similar statement by the main student union inside the country, seemed to lend credence to the opposition claims that a large majority of Iranians stayed away from the polls on Friday.

In an open letter to Khamenei on Sunday, the former Majlis Speaker accused Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the paramilitary Bassij and government officials of engaging in “certain moves” to fix the vote.

Karroubi said that he had complained to Interior Minister Moussavi-Lari of numerous violations when the voting deadline was extended from 9 p.m., adding that the minister’s reply was, ‘What you say is correct, but I wish I was not under pressure”.

He accused the Guardian Council, the highest vetting organ of the clerical establishment, of being “tools in the hands of some complex organisations” and said that it was guilty of supporting a particular ideological movement. “I am protesting against the behaviour of the Guardian Council, as well as the Guards Corps. If the Guardian Council had been able, it would have said that [presidential contender Mahmoud”> Ahmadinejad should be elected without an election”.

He went on to add that votes had been tampered with in cities such as Tehran, Qom, Mashad and Isfahan.

“On the night of the voting I notice that while at the beginning I was well ahead of other candidates, all of sudden it was announced that the votes of one of the candidates had been increased by one million, and I was very surprised”.

Karroubi said, “A great deal of money changed hands” during the election, adding that “strange events took place in some cities across the country”.

“Our request from the Supreme Leader is to investigate this matter. It is not possible for an unknown person to come and receive [the second highest number of”> votes. All this had been planned in advance and this was done by the centres of power. We shall show that the commanders of the Guards Corps had made speeches in many places in favour of a particular candidate”, Karroubi said.

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