OpinionIran in the World PressIran's Majlis elections neither free nor fair

Iran’s Majlis elections neither free nor fair


Global Politician – By Mark Williams MP: It is with optimism that I usually regard elections. Win or lose, they are an opportunity for the voice of the people to be heard, but an exception to this will be the Iranian “elections” this March. Elections in Iran are neither free nor fair. Global Politician

By Mark Williams MP

It is with optimism that I usually regard elections. Win or lose, they are an opportunity for the voice of the people to be heard, but an exception to this will be the Iranian “elections” this March. Elections in Iran are neither free nor fair. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rise to the Presidency in 2005 serves as a striking example. Even by the regime’s own pre-poll records, Ahmadinejad was not even close to first place. So how does a previously-unheard-of Revolutionary Guards commander with no proven success in politics and no pre-poll showing get more than 50 percent of the votes in an election widely boycotted by the vast majority of the Iranian population? Simple. He doesn’t.

Ahmadinejad was not elected by the Iranian people. He was appointed by the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

All candidates for Parliamentary elections in Iran must go through several levels of strict vetting including by the ultra-conservative Guardians Council. The GC, whose clerical members are all appointed by the Supreme Leader himself, must be convinced that the individual is loyal in both heart and mind to the notion of velayat-e faqih (rule of the supreme jurisprudent, a.k.a. Khamenei) in order to give its approval. For example in 2004, the Guardians Council barred over 2,500 candidates for the Parliamentary elections. In 2005, the council barred a further 2,000 candidates to compete for the Presidency. Eventually, Ahmadinejad was sworn in.

It is wrong of some so-called Iran watchers with a knack for basing their makeshift analysis on Iran on foreign newspaper reports to come out openly with the conclusion that Khamenei is lifting his support for Ahmadinejad. Such a theory shows a lack of aptitude in dicing Iran ’s political climate and a stagnant mindset with regards to the 28-year-old theocratic dictatorship’s crumbling state of affairs.

In a country where freedom of speech or opinion is non-existent, are we really to believe that anyone other than a loyalist would be given the powers to make essential decisions regarding the country’s geo-political status and potential to produce a nuclear arsenal. The fact is that Khamenei brought loyal devotee Ahmadinejad to the helm in order to pursue his fundamental policies without the slightest opposition.

So, how should we respond to what will almost certainly be a perpetuation of the past regime?

The Iranian Government have so far scoffed at more than 20 deadlines by the international community, the EU, Security Council and UN Nuclear Watchdog to suspend their uranium enrichment activities.

In Iraq and the Middle East , the Iranian regime backs violent militias responsible for the deaths of Coalition troops and seeks to sow discord and sectarian feuding in order to destabilise the region which has more than 50 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. In a brazen act of hostility that sent jitters along the global industry and financial markets, the Revolutionary Guards harassed three Coalition warships off the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic conduit where over a quarter of the world’s oil passes through each day.

The best solution is real democratic change in Iran . It is after all the people of Iran who have paid the greatest price for years as diplomatic initiatives took place by EU officials with Iran ’s ruthless rulers.

Britain and the EU must stop hindering the democratic Iranian Resistance as it strives for change. In 2001, at the behest of the regime, then Home Secretary Jack Straw banned the main democratic Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI). In 2002, and as Foreign Secretary, Mr Straw was successful in urging the EU to freeze the PMOI’s assets.

The PMOI, 120,000 of whose members and supporters have been executed by the regime, was the first to blow the whistle on the mullahs’ ominous nuclear projects, exposing key nuclear sites including Natanz, Arak and Lavizan-Shian. The group, which has several thousand members near the Iranian border in Iraq , has garnered significant support among Iraq ’s Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish and even Christian population. It has the support of a large number of Parliamentarians across Europe.

In December 2006, the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance of the European Communities handed down a landmark judgement, annulling the EU’s decision to impose a ban on the PMOI. To its shame, however, the British Government has since persuaded the EU to defy the court ruling.

Here in Britain , 35 Parliamentarians including myself , took the Government to court to have the ban on the PMOI lifted. On 30 November 2007, the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission handed down its ruling describing the Government’s continued ban on the PMOI as “flawed” and “perverse”, adding that it “must be set aside”. It ordered the Home Secretary to lay before Parliament an Order removing the PMOI from the proscribed list.

On 14 December, the Government once again decided to appeal the ruling, this time to the Court of Appeal.

The Government must now accept that it was wrong to blacklist the PMOI and remove the group from the proscribed organisations list. It should also urge the UN Security Council to impose comprehensive economic, arms, technological and oil embargo against the Iranian regime.

Mark Williams is a Member of UK Parliament for the Ceredigion constituency from the Liberal Democrat party. He sits on the Welsh Select Affairs Committee, and has been a Shadow Minister for Wales under Menzies Campbell since 2006.

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